Once you learn the standard deep-frying technique, you may start thinking "outside the potato" and dabbling in other veggies, like carrots. Although most people associate frying with oiliness, french-fried carrots have a golden-brown exterior and a fluffy interior. During deep-frying, oil only makes contact with the exterior of the carrots, and the inside steams from the oil's heat radiating inward. That's why the outside caramelizes and the inside stays oil-free. Like potatoes, though, you have to blanch carrots first so the inside and outside cook at the same rate.
Peel the carrots and trim about 1 inch from the root end and trim the tips from the stem end. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Blanch the carrots for five to 10 minutes, depending on their size, after the water returns to a boil. The wider the carrots, the longer the blanching. Take the carrots out of the water and plunge them in a bowl or container of ice water.
Cool the carrots in the ice water for about five minutes and spread them out on a kitchen towel. Pat the carrots dry with paper towels and let them sit out while you heat the oil.
Trim the carrots into rectangles with a vegetable peeler. The outer 1/4 inch of the carrots will peel away easily after blanching and make cutting easier.
Cut the carrots into 3-inch-long pieces and quarter them lengthwise to make carrot fries. You can also cut them into 1/4-inch-thick disks or 1/2-inch cubes. Let the carrots sit out uncovered while you heat the oil.
Heat 3 or 4 inches of frying oil to 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in a deep heavy-bottomed pot. Hold a meat thermometer in the center of the oil to check the temperature and adjust the burner so it stays within range.
Lower the carrots into the oil using a slotted spoon. Only fry a few spoonfuls of carrots at a time.
Fry the carrots until they are brown along the edges and take on a deeper orange color, about four to five minutes. Take the fries out of the oil and place them in a mixing bowl that has a few paper towels in the bottom.
Let the oil drain from the carrots for a few seconds. Take the paper towels out of the bowl and season the carrots to taste. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, along with dried spices such as paprika, cumin or chili powder, play well off of the carrots' sweetness.
Toss the carrots with the spices in the mixing bowl and serve while hot.
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- French-fried carrots pair well with numerous cold sauces, such as lemon aioli, tzatziki and spicy mayonnaise, to name a few.
- Fry carrots with other vegetables that cook at the same rate, such as beets and parsnips, for contrasting textures and flavors.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.
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