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Cooking Fries Starting With Cold Oil

Asked by Zillah. Answered on 25th February 2013

Full question

On Nigella's TV series 'Nigellissima' she cooked French fries which she started off in cold oil. Do you have any details of this method? Thank you, Zillsh

Our answer

Nigella cooks fries started off in cold oil in her recipe Tuscan Fries from "Nigellissima" (p138). The name itself comes from the Italian-inspired flavourings added to the oil towards the end of the cooking time - unpeeled cloves of garlic and herbs such as sage, thyme and rosemary.

The technique itself involves cutting the potatoes into slightly chunkier fries (similar to steakhous fries or thin wedges) around 1cm/1/4 inch thick. The potatoes are then dried in a tea towel and put into room temperature oil and then cooked over a medium heat.

Interestingly the potatoes do not absorb any extra oil with this technique. Indeed when Nigella measured the volume of oil left after frying 1kg/2 1/4 pounds potatoes then hardly any had been used. The science behind this is apprently to do with the temperature that the fries are cooked at rather than the actual time. Regardless of this, the recipe gives beautifully bronzed and crisp fries with less hassle than traditional frying methods.

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