The secret to Belgian fries are that they are fried twice. They come out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. There is no special potato used or certain oil that is significant. While traditionally the fries were fried in duck and beef fat, today most Belgian frites use vegetable oil but peanut oil tastes slightly better (though it is more expensive).In Belgium the standard potato is bintje, though in North America most use Russet or Yukon Gold (I prefer Russet).
Though rarely are frites, or fries, attributed to Belgium – examples: french fries, chips, freedom fries – they are indeed a creation of that northern European nation and nowhere on earth will a cone of frites taste so good. All across Belgium there are small stands called frietkots. These tiny, sometimes mobile restaurants serve fries the Belgian way and no other dishes are offered apart from a long list of sauces to accompany them. Belgian style fries are considered to be more of a gourmet item than say the mass produced fast food fries found elsewhere and Belgian fry shops have popped up all across the world.
Recipe for Belgian Fries:
-Peel potatoes. Some choose to leave the skin on, though this is unheard of in Belgium.
-Cut the potato into 1 cm (3/8″) thick slices.
-Soak the fries in water for about thirty minutes. This helps remove some of the excess starch and makes the fries a bit less sticky after the first frying.
-Remove the fries from water. Use a paper towel to dry them.
-Pour about 2 cm of oil in a pot or deep fryer and heat to 160°C (320°F).
-Drop fries into oil (just a handful at a time) for about 4-8 minutes depending on thickness and type of potato. Remove fries from oil and place in a bowl with kitchenpaper or paper towels.
-Let frites cool for at least 30 minutes.
-Reheat oil to 190°C (375°F) and fry for 2 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
-Remove frites from oil and again place in bowl to dry.
-Sprinkle with salt and serve with desired sauce.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.