Did you know French fries cooked in coconut oil are actually healthy? Yes, you heard me right! Coconut oil is a traditional fat that is really good for you.
When fried in coconut oil, French fries are healthy and nutrient-dense. And did I mention delicious?
However, there's a special trick to this recipe — not just any coconut oil will do.
The Trick to Coconut Oil French Fries: Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil
I only use expeller-pressed coconut oil. If you use regular virgin coconut oil, you can't get the smoke point high enough to produce a crispy fry. Expeller-pressed coconut oil is refined (although just as nutritious) and has a higher smoke point.
Also, and this is important, expeller-pressed coconut oil has no coconut oil odor or taste. So it's just like using flavorless vegetable oil. Nobody wants to eat French fries that taste like coconut!
Where to Find Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil
You can find expeller pressed coconut oil on my resources page.
I get my expeller-pressed coconut oil delivered by mail in a 5-gallon bucket. Coconut oil has a really long shelf life — it will keep for years, and you can store it in the pantry.
When frying, you can use coconut oil multiple times. I just leave the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven and I strain it every once in a while. Since it's stable at room temperature, you can leave it sitting on the back burner (with a lid on) for months and you don't have to worry about it going rancid, like tallow or lard. Easy and economical!
What's Wrong With Vegetable Oil?
Unlike coconut oil, vegetable oil contains almost no vitamins.
Vegetable oil (soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil) is a highly processed modern food. It is refined, bleached, deodorized, hydrogenated. Yuck!
French Fries fried in vegetable oil are really bad for you. Fry them in coconut oil, and you're got a healthy side dish.
To learn more about why vegetable oils like canola and corn oil are bad for you and should be avoided, read this article: The Oiling of America.
This recipe is vegetarian and vegan.
I modified this recipe from the one in The Balthazar Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks.
This recipe requires that you soak the potatoes in water for several hours or overnight (you could also parboil) and fry them twice. Both of these steps are critical in order to get a crispy (not soggy) French fry.
I have also made French fries with beef tallow. Those are actually my favorite, because they are much more savory.
Substitutes for expeller-pressed coconut oil: Beef tallow, palm oil, duck fat, or lard all are all healthy, traditional fats with a smoke point that is high enough to produce crispy French fries.
Coconut Oil French Fries
Russet potatoes, organic if possible (enough to feed your family — figure one large potato per person)
Expeller-pressed coconut oil (6-8 cups, or enough to fill a Dutch oven a third of the way) — where to buy
Sea salt — where to buy
Deep-fat fryer, Dutch oven, or a stock pot
If using sauce pan or stock pot, you will need a candy thermometer — the kind that attaches to the side of the pot
Cookie sheet, 1 or 2
Parchment paper, Silpat mat, or paper towels
1. Peel the potatoes and cut lengthwise into French fry size (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in width, and the length of the potato).
2. Cover the potatoes with filtered water and let sit for at least 30 minutes, and as long as overnight (in the fridge). I've tried this for as little as an hour and as long as 12 hours — and quite honestly, I couldn't really taste a difference. I think an hour is sufficient, but you can do it ahead if you like and leave the potatoes soaking in the fridge overnight.
3. Put the coconut oil in a heavy pot or a deep fat fryer. If using a heavy saucepan or stock pot, attach the thermometer.
4. Dry the potatoes very thoroughly (if they are wet, it's dangerous — as it can cause the hot oil to pop) with clean dish towels. Line a cookie sheet (preferably one with a lip) with parchment paper, a Silpat, or paper towels.
5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (or the lowest setting). Heat the expeller-pressed coconut oil to 370 degrees, and then gently and very carefully, add some of the potatoes. Don't overcrowd them. Watch for spitting hot oil and make sure there are no children around when you do this.
6. Fry for 3 minutes, then, using the tongs or the basket from the fryer, transfer the fries to the cookie sheet.
7. Wait until the coconut oil heats up again to 370 degrees, then add another batch of potatoes. Fry for 3 minutes, and continue in this manner until you have done all the potatoes.
8. Now it's time for the second fry. Bring the coconut oil to 380 degrees (mine only goes up to 375, so that's what I did) and then add some of the fries you cooked once.
9. Fry for 3 1/2 minutes this time, then transfer back to the paper- or Silpat-lined cookie sheet.
10. Sprinkle with sea salt. Don't be stingy with the salt.
11. Repeat with the rest of the fries.
12. Transfer to oven to keep warm or serve immediately. With ketchup. A
To strain your coconut oil, let the hot oil cool a bit. Then strain it through coffee filters, paper towels or cheesecloth.