I'm a pretty good cook. The one thing I can't seem to get right is french fries. I know, you're supposed to fry them twice: once at a low temperature (say 300-350) to blanch them, once at a high temperature (say 350-400) to crispen them. Tried it. Done it. Doesn't help. The fries wind up just as soggy on the second fry as they were on the first.
Some recipes suggest soaking the fries in water or a water sugar solution before frying them. Tried that. The results are even worse. Fries brown too quickly and wind up soggier.
Some recipes point out that after soaking the fries in water/sugar/salt you need to make sure they are dry before frying. Tried that too -- used a hair dryer to dry the fries before frying. Didn't help.
Perhaps part of the problem is a communication issue. What is a perfect french fry? I admit I prefer the McDonald's type, which tend to be better made if you have them at a good place in Paris, namely:
1) 1/4" by 1/4" long cut
2) VERY light golden brown, not dark with no strange coatings
3) Crisp, so that the fry well stand up straight when you hold it, yield with a very slight crunch to the teeth, but still be fully potatoey on the interior
4) Not at all greasy tasting
5) Flavor: I think McDonald's fries have a great flavor. Somehow the home version is missing something. (Yes, I know they put some beef flavor in their fries.)
Note that when I have tried the twice fry method, I tend to get darker brown fries which generally aren't terribly crisp, but are normally greasier than the ideal fry.
As far as oil, I've used peanut oil and canola. Potatoes are russets or yukon golds. The one thing I WON'T do is use lard (smells awful) or vegetable shortening (too deadly). Other than that, I'm open to anything...
As far as fryers, I've used residential plug in dep fryers (they never get hot enough, so I abandoned that) and also a pot on a stove with a deep fry thermometer. I have a very powerful 25K BTU stove, so keeping/ getting the right temperature is not a problem.
I am beginning to wonder - does one need a commercial deep fryer to make proper french fries?