French Fries and Donuts

By: Kirsten Vala
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What is the best thing you’ve ever eaten? I know what you’re thinking. Today? This week? Ever?? Well, Food Network's newest show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, asks Food Network stars to divulge their favorite foods by food type, and tells you where to find them. In case you missed the sneak peek last week, it was all about : Fried Foods. So, what’s the best fried food you’ve ever eaten?

Watching the show, I took notes on eateries I’d like to visit and unusual foods I might or might not want to try (Fried shrimp heads, Duff? Really?). But at the end I was just plain hungry, craving my two favorite foods: French fries and donuts. I dove into our site and decided to satisfy my fried foods craving – my “best foods” craving – at home.

I have to admit I consider myself somewhat of a fried food expert, having done some time in amusement-park-like fast food service (Fried Twinkies, anyone?). The trick to successful deep fat frying is getting and keeping the right oil temperature: Too hot, and you you’ll burn the outside before your food is even warm in the middle; too cool, and the food will soak up oil like a sponge. To get the right temperature, Jamie Oliver and other chefs will tell you to throw a piece of bread into hot oil and see how long it takes to brown. But for those of us not skilled at gauging the toastiness of bread, a deep fry thermometer is a necessity.

Bobby chose Balthazar’s fries as his favorite fried food, but all his fry recipes online are grilled fries. I decided Alton was my best bet and hunted down his recipe for double-fried fries. This is the first time I've ever made French fries this way, and they turned out amazing. If you're going to go to the work of heating up oil and slicing potatoes, this really is the only way to cook them. I used regular vegetable oil, instead of Balthazar's peanut oil or Alton's safflower oil, and they turned out great.

Here are the fries after their first blanching.

And here they are after their second frying, all toasted up and ready to eat. I made a Cajun spiced ketchup to dip them in.

While I had the oil hot and ready, I couldn’t resist trying Giada’s super simple Italian donuts. I didn't even use a rolling pin or a cookie cutter – just patted a hunk of pizza dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness and then cut it into small squares. When they came out of the oil I sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. (Another deep fat frying tip: Sprinkle sugar, salt or any other toppings on when fried food is fresh out of the hot oil – it will stick better while the oil is wet.) They made great donut holes!

I'm proud to say that these were some of the best fried foods I've ever made or eaten. Tonight's premiere episode is all about bar-b-que, so get ready to dig in at 9:30pm/8:30c!

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