My book SUNDAY BEST DISHES has quite a few meats I know they’d have a lot of fun with – including brisket, salmon and herb infused veggies – but the recipe I want to leave you with is for home-made French fries.

Summer BBQs, the smell of wood smoke, and perfect pool weather are part of what makes this time of year so great – at least for those of us who live in the South and can enjoy picnics before Memorial Day. Before we load up the cooler, and invite our good friends to the backyard, we should nail down a few BBQ techniques from the experts. My friends at Smoked BBQ Source asked me to feature their advice on my blog, so I hope you’ll click on their wonderfully handy wood smoking guide. In it, BBQ source shares the two main ways you can use wood when you barbecue, what kind of smoker to use, and how to bring out coveted aromas and flavors in your meat. With all their talk of apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite or pecan woods, and videos of how to man a superior grill, my mouth was watering!

If you’re gonna have a BBQ, you gotta have French fries, and you might as well have the best! The ketchup in this recipe is full of robust flavors, and there’s enough for dipping the last morsel of fry. Have fun out there!

The Real Deal Fries and Home Made Ketchup

1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon hot ground mustard
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for fries
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Put the tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cloves and allspice into a small pan over low heat. Pour in ¼ cup water. Whisk until smooth. Cook until the sugar melts and the ketchup is warmed through. Set aside and let the flavors blend at room temperature for 1 hour or in the refrigerator overnight.
2 large Idaho potatoes, scrubbed
Canola oil for frying

Peel the potatoes. Cut each potato lengthwise into 4 long slices. Cut each slice into 4 strips. Place the strips into a bowl of cold water for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Drain the potatoes through a colander and slide onto a paper towels. Use more towels to blot the potatoes dry. The drier the potatoes, the more they will crisp.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour enough oil to come 1-inch up the side of the skillet. Use a candy thermometer to gauge the oil to 325° Place the fries into the oil and cook for 5 minutes. This step cooks the inside of the potatoes. Transfer the fries to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. These pre-cooked fries will keep in the fridge for several hours until you are ready to serve.

Raise the temperature of the oil to 375°. Place the partially cooked fries in the oil. Cook until golden, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and serve with ketchup.

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