French fries are the bane of my existence. Quite simply, I've had a very hard time producing perfect restaurant quality french fries, even after following the detailed instructions of frying twice etc.
I determined that part of the problem was my frying equipment. Typical home deep fryers just suck. They don't get as hot as they are supposed to. They don't recover their heat quickly enough, so the food often simmers in the oil rather than frying.
I finally gave up and purchased an old Wells deep fryer on Ebay for about $200. It's a 220 volt unit, used but in good clean condition. (I can supply photos if people want; it has a pleasant industrial look.) It cost me $200 to have the appropriate plug installed... so the entire operation is not cheap.
I decided my 4th of July party would be a great test of the unit (I didn't even have time to test it before the party, so I was living on the edge.) I had 40 people over for chilidogs, chilifries, and chilinachos. First, I ran about 30 potatoes through my commercial hand crank curly fry maker (this is a great device too! also bought on Ebay). I loaded about 2 gallons of canola oil into the fryer and switched it on to 280 degrees. Stuck a fry thermometer in there, turned on the unit and it was like watching a Ferrari rev up - the oil was hot in well under 5 minutes. Blanched the curly fries in oil for about 4 minutes; I filled up the large fryer basket with potatoes and the unit didn't feel at all over loaded and the fryer kept the heat incredibly well. In about 30 minutes, I'd blanched all the potatoes - easily enough for 40 people!
When it came time for the party, I cranked up the oil to 360 degrees. Again - the Ferrari took off and my oil was hot in under a minute. Started frying the blanched fries in the oil - it took all of about 2 minutes before they were deliciously crisp. In about 10-15 minutes, I'd finished all of the fries... incredible! If you've ever tried making anything fried for a big group, you well know how amazing that is.
Most important: these were the best french fries I've ever made. Crisp, not greasy, golden brown - just perfect.
Oh, and I also found time to fry about 4 pounds of corn tortillas for nachos - everyone agreed they were awesome.
This unit is built like a tank. When you take the fry basket out of the oil, the bar that holds the fry basket above is incredibly solid. Also, it's raised high enough not to come close to the oil below (this is a problem with many home deep fryers).
Admittedly my unit requires a good 2 gallons of oil (cost about $10 at Smart & Final, and it can be reused - so not really that bad) and investment in the new 220 volt plug. But, I strongly recommend that any serious fryer make the leap to commercial. You won't regret it.
I'll take some photos and post later.