Ingredients for 4 people:6 yellow fleshed potatoes (2 for each shape of French fries) (plenty of it, the quantity should be 4 or 5 times that of the potatoes to be fried, this is the rule for any good fried dish)
Wash the potatoes thoroughly with their skins on, then peel them removing as little skin as possible, preferably using a potato-peeler or by scraping with a sharp knife (this works well with new potatoes), and give them another good rinse.
The first shape are “slices”, round – more or less – and very thin; you’ll have to arm yourself with patience and slice them by hand, unless you have the right utensil to do it for you. When they’re ready, whichever way you do it, fill a bowl with icy-cold water and “submerge" your slices of potato in it.
The next shape are “sticks”, the most common type shall we say; once again it’s a good idea to cut them by hand, even though it may be easier with a good potato cutter. Use a sharp knife to cut the potatoes lengthwise into 3-4 slices (or according to their size) between 1 and 1.5 cm thick; then cut them lengthwise again (placing the slices on top of each other to speed things up) into 3-4 pieces of the same thickness. Now they’re ready to go into cold water as well, in another bowl.
The last “model” of French fries are the “matchsticks”, and for these you can and will need help, from a grater. In less than no time, they’ll be ready for a third bowl of water.
Given their different sizes the slices, sticks and matchsticks have to be fried separately. Prepare the oil in a fairly deep frying pan or saucepan, better still if equipped with a basket for frying things in. While the oil is heating, lay the “sticks” on a tea towel, spread them out and dry them. They’re the ones that take longest to cook, so they’re the first to “dive” into the pan. To see if the oil has reached the right temperature, approx. 150 °C, if you don’t have a suitable thermometer, drop a little piece of fresh bread in: if it begins to sizzle immediately, but not too vigorously, it’s ready. Drop the sticks in, not too many at once in order not to lower the temperature of the oil, and let them fry for 5-6 minutes, turning them so they cook evenly all over. Take the basket out of the pan and, for the second “dive”, turn the heat up; this time the oil should be 180-190 °C (the piece of bread should begin to fry immediately and vigorously). Cook the sticks for another 2-3 minutes, then remove them from the oil, lay them on absorbent kitchen paper trying not to overlap them and only sprinkle with salt just before serving, that’s to say as soon as possible!
Fry the ”slices” and then the “matchsticks” in the same way, but halving the duration of the two “dives” into the oil, because they’re much thinner.
So, to recap: for nice crispy French fries, there are four tricks to use – putting them in cold water and then drying them; double frying; not overlapping them on the kitchen paper after frying; only sprinkling with salt “at the last second”.