Giveaway Day Three AND The Great French Fry Taste Test!

Thank you for joining me for day three of the giveaway for Kate Tietje’s e-book In the Kitchen – Real Food Basics. And again, welcome to all of my new subscribers! I am so glad to have you all!

Do you know anybody who doesn’t like french fries? Me neither. In fact, making this one food at home could probably get your kids to throw their full support behind your Real Food lifestyle (at least for a day).

French fries don’t have to be a guilty pleasure. I mean, really, they are potatoes, which are excellent sources of vitamin C (especially with the skin intact), and good sources of a range of B vitamins and minerals such as potassium (more than a banana!), phosphorus and magnesium (among others). Potatoes are a moderate source of iron, and the high vitamin C content promotes iron absorption. Potatoes also contain dietary antioxidants and fiber. (Of course frying, like all cooking methods, reduces some of the vitamin and mineral content. In general, baking with the skin on preserves the most, followed by quick frying (better at lower heat) and then boiling.)

It pays to mention here that I believe frying at lower heat is better for another reason, as well. Although it’s much more the case for unhealthy vegetable oils, even healthy oils can break down or become rancid at very high temperatures, widely thought to produce carcinogens. It’s better to control the temperature and keep it as low as you can (while still frying). For this reason, it is my preference to use a regular pot on the stove rather than a deep fryer. This has the added benefit of requiring just a small amount of oil which you can use again and again in a frying session. Healthy fats tend to be expensive, you know! And that’s the main thing that sets these healthy french fries apart from the ones at McDonalds or the steak joint up the street. They use wonderful, healthy fat.

(By the way, whenever you go out to eat, it’s a great idea to ask what kind of oil they use. Not only will it help you make more informed decisions, but with public pressure we can let these corporations know that we care about these things! Our family recently ate at a reasonably upscale restaurant at the National Harbor. I asked what kind of oil they fried in, and they told me shortening – like Crisco! Bleh!)

You should also remember that even if you’re not going all-organic with your produce, it really pays to buy organic with root vegetables like potatoes. They spend their whole lives in the dirt; it’d be best if that dirt wasn’t full of poisons.

One more note before we move on to the recipe: In my humble opinion, beef tallow (an excellent healthy fat when it comes from grass-fed pastured cows) is the ideal frying fat for french fries. However, as I may have mentioned, I have this super-fun habit of never checking my ingredients ahead of time. Of course I didn’t have enough tallow in the house to make the french fries. So I dug our huge 40-pound drum out of the back of the freezer (not an easy task since it is full of about a half-cow’s worth of meat and quite a few chickens), but even with our best efforts and numerous tools, neither my husband nor I could get the frozen drum open. So, I used refined coconut oil, which luckily made a pretty delicious substitute.

OK, here we go! I have been making delicious homemade french fries for a while now, so I was intrigued when Kate’s recipe called for an extra step. So I decided to have a french fry taste test. My family (ever-so-supportive) made the sacrifice and decided to be my tasters. Here’s Kate’s recipe:

Does this look delicious or what?

*4-6 medium potatoes, sliced (your preferred thickness)
*Oil for frying (beef tallow, lard, coconut oil)
*Sea salt

For AMAZING fries, boil a large pot of water. Put your sliced (raw) fries into the water and boil for 2-3 minutes: this is called blanching. Remove them from the water and put them on a towel to dry. Meanwhile, heat the oil (beef tallow or lard) in a large frying pan or deep fryer until sizzling (around 400 degrees). Add the blanched potatoes to the oil and cook until golden brown. Remove the oil and place them on a towel to drain. Sprinkle with sea salt.

For good, and fast fries, place cut potatoes on a baking sheet and coat them with coconut oil. Sprinkle on sea salt. Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes, until crispy and golden. Turn once, halfway through baking time. Serves 4-6.

Prep time: 10 min. Cooking time: 60 min. for blanching/ frying; 40 min. for baking (and you get to ignore it!)

Serving Suggestion: Serve with cheese sauce and accompany grass-fed burgers!

Using russet potatoes, I made my usual french fries by just frying them in a pot on the stove-top, and then I made Kate’s using the blanching/ frying method above (in the same stove-top pot). I set them out with homemade ranch and ketchup (recipe coming soon!) and we set about tasting. (It’s a tough job, but for you, I’ll do it.) The unanimous opinion was:

French fries are delicious!

But you knew that already. I think the difference between the blanched/ un-blanched fries is two-fold. One, the blanched fries had a hint of sweetness to them, which I’m sure has some scientific reason such as the development of the starches in the blanching process or some such thing. And two, the blanched french fries were crispier. I thought initially this was because mine (“A” in the picture above) had been sitting out while I cooked the blanched (“B”) fries. But as time went on they seemed to hold their crisp. So all in all, if you have the extra three minutes, blanching is a worthwhile step, and I plan to use this method from now on. (I’m planning a post, hopefully for next week, on my blanching routine for veggies – the hows and whys. It’d be super easy to slip sliced potatoes into the mix, and a great excuse to make fries for dinner!)

In the Kitchen – Real Food Basics is full of family-friendly recipes like this. I’ll share some more in the next two days, along with more chances to win it. Your entry tasks for today are below! (Remember to leave a separate comment for each thing you do to ensure I count the entries properly.)

1) If you haven’t already, visit my first post this week for up to two entries.

2) Use the ‘Share’ button to share today’s post on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, your blog or via email. (I’ll add an extra entry for the first person to do this!)

3) Comment below and tell me your ‘food favorite’ that you’re afraid you’ll have to leave behind with a Real Food lifestyle. I’d love to do a series on food makeovers!

4) Stick with me this week! Thursday and Friday will both offer MORE chances to win!

Just a note: Following the giveaway, I’ll be switching to a new host for my blog. Stay tuned for news on that so you don’t miss a post!

This post was linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday.


14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Laura on November 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I shared on Facebook


  2. Posted by Laura on November 10, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Food left behind: I would have to say marshmallows. I eat them by the bagfull and they have so little nutirional value! but at least now I make them myself I know exactly what is in them. Having said that, do you know much about gelatin? Our local grocer (health food, bulk ingrediants, organic type store) doens’t carry geltatin or any products with geletin in them. Makes me wonder why…


    • Hm, interesting… I’m not an expert on this but everything I’ve read encourages gelatin consumption, and it is considered to help with digestive issues among other things. Maybe not in health food stores as they tend toward a vegetarian clientele?? I saw on Amazon they sell the NOW brand, which is generally considered to be a good brand. I’ll look into it a bit more.


  3. I haven’t found a food that I’ve left behind – we adapt almost everything. Or we don’t eat it. Even marshmallows! 🙂
    Would love this book – looks like an incredible reference!
    freebie here:


  4. Posted by Corrie on November 11, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    i’m afraid i will have to leave behind reece’s peanut butter trees/eggs/pumpkins! yummmmm….

    question – where can you buy coconut oil?


  5. Posted by Jennifer on November 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I’m a day behind, but I’ll answer anyway. Favorite “left behind” food: Corn Pops cereal; actually, Malt-O-Meal Corn Bursts is what I love and I crave it nearly every morning. Sprouted sourdough just doesn’t replace it 😦 . But not only is it full of sugar, but it’s also made using GMO corn (blech!). I LOVE it though. I don’t know if it would qualify for a makeover though; I have no idea how you “puff” corn in your home kitchen. It would be fantastic if you really could, though.


    • Posted by Jennifer on November 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

      PS – I cannot WAIT to make these fries. I’m getting a large Lodge cast iron at the end of November, and these will be the first thing I make in there, with our pastured lard. I’ll let you know how they turn out!


    • To make the puffs I believe you would have to use extrusion, so I might not be able to have an exact replacement BUT in my ‘Kid Friendly Changes’ series I am going to do a cereal post with lots of options – maybe you’ll find a new favorite!


  6. Posted by Mary on November 13, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Oh my, I used to worry about missing my favorite sugary foods – cakes and waffles in particular. But I now know I can make versions that are just as good, using whole flours and unrefined sugars. Hooray!


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