I’ve got a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder at times. For example: as a child, every week during the 45-minute drive on the way back from dance class , I would consume a small order of McDonald’s French fries. (That’s not the OCD yet.) It took nearly the entire time because I’d eat them like this: a small bite toward the left side of my mouth from one end of the fry, flip it around, and a small bite toward the right side of my mouth from the other end. The average fry took about three rounds of the pattern before it was gone.
I know, I know…I’m totally weird. And now that I’ve bared my soul and shared my deep-seated quirk with the world, please don’t run and hide. Rest assured that I don’t do that anymore – the McDonald’s part OR the OCD part (mommies don’t have the luxury of 45 minutes to eat French fries anyway, right?)
I’m not really old enough to remember when McDonald’s made their big fry oil switch, but now that I’ve tasted French fries made in the “old way”, I can only imagine that it made a huge difference: “Before switching to pure vegetable oil in 1990, the McDonald’s corporation cooked its french fries in a mixture of 93% beef tallow and 7% cottonseed oil.” (Source)
Beef tallow? Yep. Got any of that on hand?
McD’s made the switch because of pressure to get away from saturated fats, which we know received a bad rep as artery-clogging nasties…so of course they moved to trans fats, later proven to be the worst possible unhealthy, unnatural fat one could put into their body! I’m voting they move back to beef tallow…
Lazy Katie Experiments with Deep Frying
I’ve seen some great recipes for French fries around the blogosphere lately, but I’m a pretty lazy girl sometimes. I read at 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Haven about Jen’s teenage son making potato chips on a whim one day, both baked and fried. Inspired by his impulsivity, I figured I might be able to fly by the seat of my pants later that week. Without a recipe, I just tried making potato chips by slicing potatoes really thin, heating about a half inch of coconut oil in my cast iron skillet, and cooking them until they looked like potato chips. Some recipe, eh?
I did the same for French fries. I didn’t use a thermometer or a timer. I certainly didn’t have as much fat as I was probably supposed to have. I just did it, and then I drooled…They were really, really good.
If you use my “recipe” be sure not to overheat the oil. Never to smoking. I didn’t really go above “medium” on my power burner.
A Few Recipe Tweaks: Beef Tallow French Fries
When I read at Cheeseslave’s post that yes, the fat from the top of my beef stock WAS, in fact, tallow, I decided to swallow my ill-conceived notions of “evil beef fat” and try French fries in it. I only had enough for one pan full, and not very deep at that (less than an inch). The potatoes aren’t even fully submerged:
My french fry picture was inadvertently downsized – but you can see better with the chips.
I just flipped them one time. When they looked done, I pulled them out to drain on paper towel and salted them:
Cheeseslave also taught me how to get crispier fries: soak the potato sticks in water either for 12 hours (in the fridge) or boil for a few minutes. (See her technical recipe for beef tallow french fries, too.)
My fries were good either way, but AMAZING, like, CANNOT stop eating them amazing, would pay $10 at a fab restaurant for them amazing, with the soaking and the tallow. I haven’t enjoyed a meal at home so thoroughly before or since, believe me. If you have a weak spot for French fries, you must put “beef tallow fries” on your mental “to try someday” recipe list!
My kids also love parsnip fries.
When I told my friends I made homemade potato chips and French fries, their jaws dropped because I assured them they were deep-fried, not baked, and loaded with real salt. They know I cook “healthy food” and certainly weren’t expecting such an “indulgence” from my kitchen! My perspective on healthy food has become set apart from that of our culture.
I couldn’t get enough of these fries, and the best part is that, if you get over the starchy shouldn’t-really-eat-that aspect of the potatoes themselves, there’s no guilt about eating French fries! I feel totally comfortable serving potato chips and French fries to my kids when I make them myself in healthy fats. The kids are really happy too!
The problem is when we encounter “regular” chips and French fries and Lovey Girl knows what they are and what she’s missing out on!!
One Important Consideration
Kelly’s site says to dry them thoroughly. This is probably for safety (boiling oil and water = not such a good combination!). I didn’t know that. Don’t take my word on it, but at whatever temperature my tallow was, I didn’t have any exploding grease. I drained the potatoes and took them right from the pot into the oil. My tallow was *not* boiling or bubbling.
We’re winding down on the Fat Full Fall. Next week I’ll share a “baseline fats” post, to break down how and for what purpose you can use each type of fat.
Interesting fat note: traditional movie popcorn was popped in coconut oil, until the low-saturated fat movement pushed the switch to sunflower oil.