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French fries

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March 5, 2008

Serves 4

4 russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, left whole, and pricked with a fork
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 quarts peanut or corn oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt, to taste
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and cover with foil. Roast for 1 hour or until tender. Let the potatoes cool to room temperature.

2. Without peeling the potatoes, square off all the sides so they sit without rocking. Slice lengthwise into rectangles about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the rectangles into thick strips.

3. In a deep 4-to-6-quart frying pan or flameproof casserole, pour in enough peanut or corn oil to half fill the pan. Heat the oil to 270 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer.

4. Drop the fries into the hot oil. Cook over high heat until the oil reaches 270 degrees again. Lower the heat to maintain the temperature. Stirring often with stainless steel tongs or a slotted spoon, cook the fries for 10 minutes or until the potatoes appear stiff and very lightly colored.

5. Set a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Use the spoon to transfer the fries to the rack.

6. Reheat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer.

7. Return the fries to the oil. Cook for 2 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and crisp. Halfway through cooking, add the sprigs of fresh thyme. Immediately stand back - they will splutter.

8. Remove the fries and thyme and transfer to the rack. Cover a plate with several layers of paper towels. Transfer the fries and thyme to the paper. Carefully blot the fries. Sprinkle with salt. Jonathan Levitt

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