I love fries. There, I've said it out loud. It is no longer my dirty, little, not-so-secret secret. In fact, I LOVE fried foods, and I am not averse to indulging my craving for greasy fries with unhealthy lashings of ketchup and mayo. In truth, I went through a period when I ate fries daily, I'm a little ashamed to admit it. But, as a vegetarian, there is often very little on offer to nibble on in a working kitchen -vegetarians are often sniggered at, and looked down upon- so platefuls of chips and mayo were a go-to when the hunger pangs hit. On the up side, eating fries daily at work meant that I never felt the urge to deep-fry potatoes at homes: no mess, no fuss.
But I no longer work in a restaurant, so I no longer get my fix of fries. There are local greasy spoons where I can get portions of fried potatoes, but I really have to be in the mood to walk into one and wait for my order. Especially when I know that I can make better fries at home, with perfect frying potatoes and, more importantly, without turning my kitchen into a greasy spoon.
Yes folks, it's true: you can indeed make beautifully crisp fries with just a few tablespoons of oil. And you don't even need to buy a new single-use contraption that will take up way too much space in your kitchen (you know who you are, I don't need to name you...) All you need are the right potatoes, a large frying pan, and some patience. Really.
The pictures aren't great because the lighting has been horrendous of late, but you will notice the tempting browning on those potatoes. It's all real, and I only used about two spoonfuls of oil. The hardest part in this endeavour is to find the right potato: in North America, go for the Yukon Golds or Russets; in the UK, Maris Pier, King Edward, and Desiree are good choices. You want a potato that is labelled for frying, roasting, baking, or mashing: these types of potatoes will have a high starch content that will not only gives good crunching satisfaction, but will also result in fluffy insides.
The next step is to cut them. They can be any size you want, but the entire batch should be the same size for even cooking. Also, be aware that the smaller fries will be a little more fiddly to turn onto all sides. Normally, the next step would be to give your potatoes a good wash to get rid of any excess starch: however, this step is only necessary if you are deep-frying your chips. When pan-frying, you need that extra starch for extra crunch.
Get your pan moderately hot, and heat two to three tablespoons of vegetable oil. Place the potatoes in the pan in a single layer. Then wait patiently. When you notice a little bit of browning on the potatoes' edges, give them a little flip to brown the next side, and so on and so forth until the fries are evenly golden on all sides. Make sure they're cooked through by tasting one. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy while still hot.