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Brianna’s Matchstick (Cold Oil) French Fries

Brianna’s Matchstick (Cold Oil) French Fries

A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Beyond the Books

“I would love to find some dye plant that gives a true purple,” she said wistfully.  “I miss the bright colors.  Remember the dress I wore to the man-on-the-moon party?  The black one, with the bands of Day-Glo pink and lime green?”

“That was pretty memorable, aye.”  Privately, he thought the muted colors of homespun suited her much better; in skirts of rust and brown, jackets of gray and green, she looked like some exotic, lovely lichen.

Seized by the sudden desire to see her, he reached out, fumbling on the table by the bed.  The little box was where she’d thrown it when they came back.  She’d designed it to be used in the dark, after all; a turn of the lid dispensed one of the small, waxy sticks, and the tiny strip of roughened metal glued to the side was cool to his hand.  A skritch! that made his heart leap with its simple familiarity, and the tiny flame appeared with a whiff of sulfur — magic.

“Don’t waste them,” she said, but smiled in spite of the protest, delighted at the sight as she’d been when she first showed him what she’d done.

Her hair was loose and clean, just washed; shimmering over the pale round of her shoulder, clouds of it lying soft over his chest, cinnamon and amber and roan and gold, sparked by the flame.

Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 21)

They belong together, even if their relationship is a little inflamed from time to time.

Roger had a tough haul through Drums and The Fiery Cross, I think we’ll all agree.  But it’s a good thing he made it, ’cause there wasn’t a man born in the 18th Century capable of handling Bree, except maybe her Da — but, as we’ve seen, even Jamie’s ability to cope with modern women is brought into question from time to time.

Whether you think of her as a great disturbance or a striking 6 foot tall spitfire, her fierce spirit and unwomanly intelligence (not to mention her breeches), would have caused a great deal of trouble with anyone else.  Let’s look at the list of “suitors” shall we?  Young Ian, Lord John, Obadiah Henderson…

Ew.  That last one says it all.

cold oil french fries

Most of you who have made french fries at home are probably of the opinion that it’s just easier to get them from a take out window.  The classic technique requires 2 dips in hot oil — a first to blanch the potatoes, and then a second, higher temp, bath to get that perfect golden crunch.

This cold oil method is one I adapted a couple of years back from a recipe I found on  It consists of a single fry starting with cold oil, making it faster and way easier in terms of cleanup.  And the results are perfectly crisp and delicious!

cold oil french fries

(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Brianna’s Matchstick (Cold Oil) French Fries

If these were for Roger, I’d call them chips.  But since these crisp golden sticks are all about Bree, they’ve got to be fries.

Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed – 1 large/person
Vegetable Oil – to cover
Salt – to taste

Square off the sides of the potatoes, then cut lengthwise into 3/8” x 3/8” sticks.  Put the potatoes in a saucepan and pour in enough oil to completely cover the potatoes.
Cook over high heat, undisturbed, until the oil comes to a rolling boil.  Continue to cook, untouched for another 10 minutes.  Stir with tongs, gently scraping the bottom of the pan to release any that stick.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oil using tongs or slotted spoon.  Drain on paper towels, toss with salt and serve.


  • Yukon Golds (and their high moisture content) are essential for the best results.  Russets will work in a pinch, but they’ll be much darker.
  • Choose a pan that is large enough to hold the fries and oil with lots of room to spare – You don’t want a spill over once the oil starts to boil.  I use 2 large potatoes and stack them in a tall narrow pot, which uses approx 2½ cups of oil to cover.
  • I prefer safflower, sunflower or peanut oils because I prefer to avoid Genetically Modified (GM) oils such as canola, corn and soybean.  But that’s just me.
  • Once the oil has cooled, strain and cover it.  Keep it in the fridge until next time — you can use each batch of oil 4 or 5 times before it becomes too dark and smeechy.
  • I may be stating the obvious here, but you need to make enough fries for everyone in the first batch.  Once the oil is hot, it’s difficult to make Cold Oil Fries.


  1. ruaTimeTraveler2
    February 23, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Everyone loves fries!!

    • Theresa
      February 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Exactly, Vickie! LOL

  2. outlanderfan
    February 23, 2012 at 6:27 am

    What are “GM” oils?

    • Theresa
      February 23, 2012 at 8:37 am

      oops, sorry Jenn! GM stands for genetically-modified…Theresa

  3. Heather Dollman
    February 23, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I make fries all the time and I am always out of time to do them. I cheat and half cook them in the microwave or steal a baked we didn’t eat slice them and put them in hot oil. I think I’ll give myself some time and try your way, yum.

    • Theresa
      February 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Heather — you`ll love these!

  4. Lee Ann
    February 23, 2012 at 9:05 am

    YUM! What do you do with the scraps of potato after you square them?

    • Theresa
      February 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

      Good question, Lee Ann! You can save them (covered with water so they don`t go brown) in the fridge for about a day. Great in soups, stews…or use them up in a hash for breakfast the next day. 🙂

    • Lee Ann
      February 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm


  5. Denise Landrum
    February 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I think imna give these a try.I even have the yukon golds available,and the non gmo oil..yay!!

  6. Kate
    February 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    These were sooo easy to make! And the sunflower oil is nice and light. Really good! I’ll make them again. Thanks!

    • Theresa
      February 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      Glad you liked them, Kate!

  7. Heather Landon
    February 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    So why are they called cold oil fries if you cook em in hot oil?? And why would it be hard to cook another batch once the oil is hot?

    • Theresa
      February 23, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Heather, if you read the recipe, you’ll see that cold oil is poured over the potatoes at the start of the cooking process. Once that batch of fries is cooked, you would have to wait for the oil to cool down before making another.

      In the classic french fry method, the potatoes are cooked in preheated oil not once, but twice. A much more involved and messy process.

    • Heather Landon
      February 24, 2012 at 9:02 am

      What is it about starting with cold oil instead of putting the fries in hot oil that changes the process so much? I feel like I’m being awfully thick, lol!

    • Theresa
      February 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

      As the oil heats up, Heather, the potatoes get blanched (cooked gently), then as the oil gets hotter, the fries brown. French fries usually get cooked 2 stages, the blanch and then the brown. This method reduces the work to just one bath in the oil…hopefully that explains it! |:)

  8. Jenn @LeftoverQueen
    February 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm


  9. I really want to try them. I’m loving the idea of not using a thermometer and keeping the heat at a perfect level! I also love the fact that you use Yukon Golds. I might have thought about making my own potato chips on the occasion that I have a craving and there aren’t any in the house (though I’m not admitting to anything). It would seem to me (not from experience, mind you) that Yukon fry up much more like the store packaged chips than Russets do. Nice to have that ‘theory’ proven. 🙂

    • Theresa
      February 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      The yukon golds are definitely preferable for this method. Russets still work, but because they have less moisture, they brown more quickly…resulting in darker, but still tasty, fries.

  10. bullrem
    February 27, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I have never started my fries ‘cold’ and have never used that much oil. Being Scottish – – – I will try this method for sure, but save the oil to use over and over…. hee hee. Thanks again for what I know will be another winner.
    Helen in Ark.
    (trying to figure out how to add my picture and not a Gravatar)

    • Theresa
      February 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Let me know how you like them, Helen!

  11. Laura
    April 2, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I remember reading this recipe on Island Vittles and wanting to try it, but forgetting about it. Finally made them last night with some local French Fingerlings to accompany a grilled ham & cheese. Yum! They remind me of the fries we served at a restaurant my hubby & I worked at in college. I fry quite a few foods (homemade: fried chicken, hush puppies, chicken nuggets, etc.) and am always looking for recipes to get more life out of my oil. Thanks, Theresa!

    • Theresa
      April 3, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Laura. That sounds like my ideal dinner…

  12. Mindy Reed
    July 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Just made these for dinner and they were SO SO good!!! Loved them! Do did my husband and kids! Thanks for another good recipe!!

  13. Anne Hayward
    February 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Do you keep the heat on high the entire time they’re cooking?

    • Theresa
      February 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Yes, Anne…high all the way. 🙂

  14. Susan Dorward
    March 9, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    My Sassenach made fries like that last night. He made wonderful fish and chips. He was adorable explaining the cold process to me!

  15. Patty Voga
    March 9, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    These sound wonderful but do they really take 20-25 minutes total to cook once the oil is hot??

    • Theresa
      March 9, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      The total time is from the time you turn the stove on, when the oil is cold.

  16. Melani Gutierrez
    March 9, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I would love to make these. I have tried fires before but never could keep them from being soggy. I have a family of four. Would a deep stock pot work for a larger batch or should I use a wider pot?

    • Theresa
      March 9, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      A deep stock pot is perfect.

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