This recipe is part of Crispianity: a column devoted to all foods crispy and crunchy, two of the most underappreciated attributes of a great dish. Author Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer, pairing here with her friend, photographer Evan Sung. Sussman’s most recent cookbook, co-authored with Lee Brian Schrager, is Fried and True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.
A tangle of hot, freshly fried shoestring potatoes is just about the best thing around, and they’ve got some considerable advantages over their standard-cut cousins. For starters they’re the fastest cooking spuds you’ll find, going from whole tuber to crisped-up munchie hero in minutes without any of the double — or even triple — frying that is the hallmark of many great french fries. They’re also more versatile, as worthy a garnish for soups, salads and sandwiches as a standalone snack. And while they’re delicious hot and fresh, shoestrings remain crispy when cold, meaning they’re just as good the next day, tucked into a tuna sandwich or scattered across a poor man’s niçoise salad.
To turn the potatoes into ribbons you could cart out your bulky mandolin slicer, but I’d suggest using a simple julienne peeler, which yields surprisingly sturdy strands and demands minimal cleanup. A quick soak in ice water, a dab with paper towels, a brief dance with hot oil – and you’re done. Now that’s what I call freedom fries.
- canola or peanut oil, for frying
- 2 or 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled
- bunches of fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage and rosemary
- kosher, maldon or sea salt
- lemon wedges
- Using a julienne peeler or a mandolin slicer, slice the potatoes into strands. Apply pressure when slicing to make the strands as thick as possible; that way they’ll hold together better when frying.
- Submerge the potatoes in an ice water bath, then drain and then pat them dry on paper or cloth towels (but really, pat them – the drier the potatoes are, the better).
- Fill a large pot halfway with oil and heat to 375°F (use a candy or deep-fry thermometer if possible).
- Working in batches add the potatoes and fry, stirring to prevent them from sticking, and making sure the oil remains above 350°F, until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.
- Add some fresh herbs during the last 30 seconds of each batch.
- Drain herbs and potatoes on paper towels and season with salt to taste.
- Serve hot, or store in airtight containers for use for up to 1 week.
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