The French Fry Disaster Martha Stewart Only Suffered Once

Martha Stewart has shared countless cooking tips over the years, from using clarified butter to making scrambled eggs, cooking lobster in vodka, and employing a slotted spoon to easily de-rib kale. Lucky for us, she's just as inclined to share her kitchen mishaps as well as her successes to prevent us from making the same mistakes. As she explained in an episode of "Martha Stewart's Cooking School," one such disaster (that Stewart only suffered once before learning her lesson) was overcrowding a Dutch oven with French fries, which caused the hot oil inside to bubble over and make a dangerous mess.

Crowding a pot with an abundance of fries not only causes displacement, making the oil level rise, but also forces the oil to surge because the heat from the fat drives off the moisture in the fries, generating small bubbles of rising steam. The greater the volume of food, the larger the volume of bubbles that rush up at once, which in turn forces the oil upwards.

This is dangerous because the oil can cascade over the sides of a pan, spill onto the floor, and cause burns to the skin. It also makes a huge mess on a stovetop that's very tricky to clean; you'll have to wait for the oil to cool down first before you can mop it up safely and get back to finishing your recipe. Overcrowding the pan also reduces the temperature of the oil, which can cause your fries to clump together as they cook, absorb extra fat, and become soggy and grease-logged instead of beautifully crisp.

Fry frites in smaller batches after drying them well

Aside from cooking fries in smaller batches to reduce the risk of the oil bubbling over, you should also make sure that they are as dry as possible before adding them to the pot. While it's true that placing your prepped potatoes in cold water and chilling them in the fridge removes their excess starch to make them crispier once fried, you must always use a paper towel to remove as much moisture as you can from their surface before introducing them to hot oil. This reduces the risk of dangerous spits and splatters that could land on your skin, causing painful burns.

Finally, be mindful that you should salt your potatoes while they're hot so the salt can cling to their surface and create a moreish, well-seasoned coating (the same rule goes for all seasonings, such as garlic powder, smoked paprika, and powdered parmesan). This little trick locks flavor into the fries and lifts the existing savory notes in the potato. As always, eat your fries at speed to enjoy them at their crispiest — if they sit out for too long, the moisture in the center of the fries will penetrate their exterior and make them soft and pliable instead of audibly crisp.