There’s nothing that goes from “irresistibly delicious” to “inedibly disgusting” as fast as the humble french fry.
Fresh from the fryer, they are perfect. An hour later, they’re limp, chalky, dry and utterly tasteless. Yet somehow, we still find ourselves munching on them, while standing in front of the fridge with the door propped open, repeating “These are awful - just one more!” over and over again.
As many of you may have learned the hard way, the microwave is certainly not the answer. Sure, it’ll get your fries nice and hot, but it will also leave you with a mushy, lackluster rendition of your already suffering potatoes.
Cast Iron to the Rescue
It’s time to crisp ‘em up and make them worth saving! For that, we recommend using your cast iron skillet. Just like with leftover pizza, it is the absolute best way to return your fries to their former glory.
Although you can use a regular non-stick pan if you don’t own a cast iron skillet, it won’t quite measure up. Cast iron reaches a much higher temperature than a traditional non-stick pan, and will therefore render a crispier, crunchier french fry. Also, a well-seasoned pan adds an element of umami inherent to this particular form of cookware.
Here’s how you do it...
1. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high on your stove.
2. Once it’s nice and hot add a little oil to the pan. Choose an oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut, and coat the pan lightly. Remember, your fries already contain a lot of residual oil, so don’t overdo it.
3. Add the fries, being sure not to crowd the pan. You may need to do two batches if you have a lot left over.
4.Toss them in the oil until warmed through and crisp, about 2-3 minutes.
If you want to get creative, you can add chopped herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, or minced garlic to the pan as well. The world is your french fry.
The Oven or Toaster Oven
We think it’s important to mention that, although we firmly believe the skillet to be the way to go, you do have a couple of other reheating options.
If you’d like to steer clear of the stove, you can certainly crank up the temperature on your oven or toaster oven and bake your french fries back to life. This method will also lead to reinvigorated fries with a nice crispy exterior.
They will, however, not have that super satisfying crunch that a lot of french fry lovers are looking for. The skillet will provide more direct heat and oil contact, which emulates the initial cooking method, namely frying, better than the oven will.
If you’re not partial to really crunchy, golden fries, and prefer a more moderately crisp version, then the oven is the way to go.
1. Heat your oven/toaster oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Scatter your french fries across the sheet, trying not to overcrowd it, and bake for approximately 7 minutes, depending on your oven. It’s always a good idea to give them a peek about 5 minutes in.
The Panini Press Method
According to our friends over at The Food Network, your panini press will do more than create delicious panini sandwiches. This handy countertop appliance will prepare everything from a whole, roasted chicken to delicious corn on the cob.
Much to our delight, it will even revive those sad, cold french fries. A few minutes spent pressed between two hot, rippled surfaces will provide you with more-than-decent leftover fries that are almost as good the second time around.
When All Else Fails, Repurpose
If you are of the mindset that no fry will ever be good enough much past its initial conception, then might we suggest repurposing those fries into more than what they were originally intended to be?
How about whipping up an over-the-top batch of Poutine?
This Canadian specialty, originally from Quebec, consists of a hearty portion of french fries, covered in gravy and topped with melting cheese curds.
As the gravy softens the french fries quite a bit, and the cheesy curds add a delightfully chewy, melty quality, the slightly stale nature of leftover fries is masked beautifully in this indulgent treat.
Related on Yahoo Makers: No This Isn’t Pizza, It’s Pizza Dip!
And finally, if you want to start your day off with a bang, how about turning them into hash browns. Blogger Cecilia of On a Gloomy Day, shows us that french fries, when chopped up finely, seasoned and shaped into patties, make for a yummy, crispy breakfast side dish - perfect for a Sunday morning.
So, next time you’re debating whether or not to bring home those left over fries, go ahead and have them wrapped up - you can certainly recapture the magic.
For more great reheating tips check out From Slice to Rice: How to Reheat Take-Out
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