French fries have been around since the Middle Ages. They are said to have originated in Belgium in the 1600s. Known as pommes frites in France and chips in Great Britain, French fries are immensely popular all over Europe, as well as in America.
Did you know French fries can actually be good for you? If cooked in the right kind of fat, French fries are nourishing, healthy and full of vitamins.
Fats in History
One hundred years ago, liquid vegetable oil was not invented yet. People cooked with lard, tallow, and butter. Cancer and heart attacks were also unknown.
Fats & Oils in the Food Supply: 1890 vs. 1990
(in descending order of market share)
Soybean Oil (70% partially hydrogenated)
Rapeseed Oil, or Canola Oil (usually partially hydrogenated)
(source: Mary Enig, PhD, Know Your Fats)
What’s Wrong With Vegetable Oil?
Vegetable oil is a highly processed modern food. It is refined, bleached, deodorized, hydrogenated, and totally devoid of any nutrients. An empty food — and harmful to boot. (To learn more about why vegetable oil is bad for you, read this article: The Oiling of America.)
Grass-fed Tallow: Rich in Fat Soluble Vitamins
Tallow, on the other hand, is easy to render in your own kitchen from beef fat you can buy from your butcher or farmer. And tallow from grass-fed cows is full of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamin K2, which is instrumental in building bones and teeth.
Who knew that eating French fries could help us prevent cavities and osteoporosis? Now you can tell your children they they can skip the salad, but they must finish all their French fries — so they can grow big and strong. (Source)
Tallow: The Traditional Cooking Oil For French Fries
Tallow is also the fat traditionally used for French fries. And many say it is the beef tallow that makes the fries much more flavorful. Did you know McDonald’s made their French fries with beef tallow until 1983?
The taste of a french fry is largely determined by the cooking oil. For decades McDonald’s cooked its french fries in a mixture of about seven percent cottonseed oil and 93 percent beef tallow. The mixture gave the fries their unique flavor — and more saturated beef fat per ounce than a McDonald’s hamburger. Source: Eric Schlosser in The Atlantic.
Actually, in France, they used beef tallow and horse tallow — but it may not be so easy to find horse tallow these days so we’ll stick with beef tallow.
Equipment Needed for This Recipe
Deep-fat fryer or a heavy bottomed enamel or stainless steel sauce pan or stock pot
If using sauce pan or stock pot, you will need a candy thermometer — the kind that attaches to the side of the pot
Parchment paper, Silpat mat or paper towels