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Home Fries not Hot Enough

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
This site was recommended to me, so I thought I'd try posting my problem here

It seems I'm having a problem on busy mornings keeping our home fries hot. We make a fair amount of them around 9ish before the large crowds come in, but I've got a problem with keeping them hot. With limited grill space on the flat top it seems there's not always enough space. Only have one oven which stays at 350 for biscuits, and no room for any additional equipment nor the electrical supply for any type of heater. Our current practice is we cook up a bunch, some are held in a cast iron skillet on the flatop and are put directly on the flattop as the orders come up, the remaining ones held on the side and then go to the skillet or the flattop as needed. Over the course of the morning they've dropped to room temp which is where the problem seems to be. ..I've watched it the last couple of Sunday's and when "the rush" starts there isn't enough space to get them onto the flattop long enough to really get hot. I've tried holding them in my altosham but they get soggy rather quickly..I suspect there's a way to use it but I have yet to figure it out Open to any and all suggestions.
post #2 of 21
I have the same issue, with trying to hold homefries for banquets...they get soggy and nasty in hotboxes so I am trying out different products. Are you using sliced potatoes or diced potatoes? This may seem like a stupid question, but I don't know the volume you do, so I am going to ask, is it possible to do them to order? Maybe ask your food vendor to hook you up with samples of various products to try out, and explain your issue, they are usually more than willing to help with solutions. Good luck
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Diced, well chunked would be a better term, use 90 count potatoes and cut out around 20 pieces per potato. Can't do them to order because of the volume
post #4 of 21
I worked in a pub that did the early morning soccer matches and we par cooked our home fries in the steamer and held them in a low boy until the orders rolled in. As soon as we started getting home fry orders we dropping them in the fryer.
post #5 of 21
Are you using raw or cooked potatoes? In my area, sliced raw potatoes that are fried on a flat top are known as raw fries. They take a considerable amont of time to cook, so therefore no one does that. American fries (or "home fries") are made from either left-over baked potatoes that are peeled and sliced, or potatoes that are boiled and peeled for that specific use. They are best cooked to order but that doesn't always work. I used to brown them off and put in the alto sham to hold. They would, if left in there too long take on an "old" taste. I did this because my grill (a Keeting) which I loved, came over on the Mayflower and needed to be rewired and I didn't have the money to do it, so it never got hot enough to keep up with the volume. The fryer works, not ideal, but it may solve your problem. I agree with the people who have said brown off lightly, hold and reheatr/crisp up as needed. My crew (young guys) are very influenced by the whole fat-free mind think and don't put enough oil on the grill to "fry". Potatoes won't brown or crisp up without oil. Canola oil will not work as well as corn oil. I don't know why, I just know that. The best thing I found for all-purpose breakfast cooking is what they call Euro-blend. It's 70% butter and 30% canola. It comes in a solid block and must be kept warm to be liquid. It's more affordable than pure butter but has the taste and performance of butter.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
They're home fries, a mix of leftover baked and parboiled. I agree it's best to cook them to order, but on Sat / Sun it's just not going to work. We cook them off, and put them in a deep hotel pan and reheat to order tossing the onions and spices on then. The problem is lack of grill space, throw a few orders of french toast, a couple of stacks, and we're not even talking yet about breakfast meats. When you held them in your sham, how did you do that and how long did they hold for. I've tried it a few times with different combinations but haven't hit on the right combination yet.
post #7 of 21
Maybe I missed it, but your equipment is limited to a small flattop, an oven and an altoshaam?
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
well I've got a stove/oven, deep fryer, the sham and a charbroiler and no space for anything else, nor the electrical to add a heater/warmer
post #9 of 21
I would par cook them and drop them in the fryer for service, with a quick toss in a bowl with seasoning.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #10 of 21
Our chain is having problems with the potatoes as well... we don't have deep fryers, so they are steamed first and then finished on the flat top. Apparently there is a meeting soon for the owners and they will be talking about potatoes and menu changes among other things.
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well at least I'm not alone..I'm thinking of making a big "skillet" of cast iron to put on one half of my char broiler, but a quick dip in the fryer would be a lot cheaper
post #12 of 21
I tried not to keep them longer than an hour in the sham as they would take on a "leftover" flavor. I had a Witco roast and hold unit, which is the same thing. They will hold better on a sheet pan than in a hotel pan as they won't get as soggy. Also, I used to put sheet pans of bacon in the oven and then in the sham and would refresh on the grill. Link sausage can go in the deep fryer. Patty sausage can be cooked ahead and held in the sham. Also, if you're not using your burners, you can buy a cast iron griddle that fits over two burners. They cost around $60 from a restaurant supplier. I used to use one of those for hash browns, pancakes and french toast. It worked good once I got the hang of it. (Takes awhile to figure out where to set your burner flame.)
post #13 of 21
Greyeagle you beat me to the punch......instead of moving potatoes think out which of your other items can be par cooked and held elsewhere.
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post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Let me think this through out "loud" it helps me think, stove top 6 burners..2 warming up soup for lunch, 1 for poached eggs, 1 to make additional gravy..okay that should leave 2. Sausage patty's are precooked and refreshed on flatop, . What did you find worked as a temp for holding bacon? We already precook it and toss on flattop to warm up .of course even this becomes a problem when you've got orders in the window for 15+ servings, so getting more space would help this as well. Hold premade biscuits in top of sham (not turned on), can move to bottom and turn top on to hold bacon. Looked at a 2 burner stove top griddle (the prices have gone up a lot since you got yours but not ridiculous) at 11 wide, and low temp it could hold either hash browns or home fries, most likely hash browns as crispier is better. It's not big enough for the pancake / french toast volume. Okay that's a possibility, need to look at stove top when I go in to make certain of there being 2 unused burners. Keep thinking I'm forgetting something.
post #15 of 21
You say you can't spare the flattop space for potatoes once business gets going, so you'll never be able to hold some in a shaam for an hour and make more on the flattop. You don't have the room.
Creating additional space, like the griddle plate for the broiler is a good plan, otherwise I don't see any other solution but the fryer.

You did say you have an oven kept at 350 for biscuits.
I would think you'd only need one rack for that.
Can you do oven roasted red potatoes?
I'd eat the heck out of those for breakfast, and they have the benefit of being a little healthier.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
I like the griddle idea, one of my customers works in a used equipment store so I'm going to give her a call this afternoon to see if they've got one hanging around. My thought of using the sham was to precook they way we do now, put some in the sham, hold the rest, then pull the first pan of them and replace it with a second pan to start warming. That for the home fries and the griddle for the hash browns leaves a lot more space on the flattop. It won't solve everything as there are Sunday mornings when around 11ish we're making more up, as we've run out of one or the toher and sometimes both. But after all nothing is perfect.
post #17 of 21
In my area a lot of places have what they call "breakfast potaotoes" that are cubed red potatoes they put in the deep fryer. I had the same problem with crazy busy breakfast rushes on the week end. People around here aren't very patient and don't get the concept of having to wait because a place is popular. I wold try to head it off at the pass by running a "special" that featured fresh fruit or some other item I could prep ahead that could replace a problem item and take the heat off the line. For instance some places make french toast in the oven (more like bread pudding than what we think of as french toast). Make it with good cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg and the whole place with smell like heaven. You can add apples, nuts, whatever to it to make a house specialty. Cut it in squares like a sheet cake, pair with a couple of pieces of sausage or bacon and a fruit cup, you could slap that out all morning long with almost no effort and people will think it's the greatest thing because they can't get it anywhere else!
post #18 of 21
I'm sorry, perhaps I'm stepping on an American tradition here (I had to google home fries), however the answer to me seems simple; drop them to order in the fryer at 190C. They'll brown in 30 seconds.
They won't go oily if you whipe or shake the oil off the surface before they cool to below 100 (the steam will push away any oil from within the potato). If you want the 'shallow fry' taste; drop on a knob of butter and let them soak that up.
post #19 of 21
have you tried opening the vent on the door of the autosham?
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post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yes after the first failure tried them 1/2 open and then fully open. I think I'm going to try the griddle this week and see how that works out. One of my waitstaff's husband does welding so he's going to make me up one that I'll be able to keep hot on the unused side of my charbroiler. If that doesn't work, I'll keep working on the altosham approach
post #21 of 21

How big is the grill?  This is a key question. 

 

If you fry anything it has to drain for a minute or two to stay crispy for awhile btw.  It has to be shaken a bit to let some steam off, and they have to drain.

 

It also sounds like you dump a lot on the grill and they don't get hot fast, because it kills your grill.  Is it just a plain jane manual?  When you load a manual grill up, it kills the temp and takes awhile to get back up.  Especially with a whole layer of potato, which can suck up a lot of heat.  Are you throwing room temp or cold potatoes on?  A snap-action grill could fix that.  Are your potatoes already cooked?  Most diners have a lot of potatoes ready to roll and don't wait to throw spuds on until the tickets roll in. 

 

If you boil. peel, and then slice them on a box grater, those can sit for a long time on the flat top because they still have a lot of starch that helps to slow browning, you can keep turning them and mixing them, and you can start a big pile before service that you keep refreshing as you go. Then they're fully cooked, and are being reheated. They are moist and so can sit ona  grill a long time without becoming overdone.  I worked at a place that would load the entire grill preservice and brown the whole underside, then flip them all over and make a big pile that you take from the bottom, and then reload a ton of fresh ones between the pile and the grill's wall just to be able to keep up during the rush.  You move that pile towards the work side and keep laying new ones down.  As soon as you have a bare spot, lay more down.  Keep moving the old in one direction and lying down the new.  Those sat out on the line for a bit to go on warm btw. If you have a manual grill, not a snap action, laying down cold spuds will kill the grill and slow it all down.  Potatoes can suck up a ton of heat right off the grill, even when room temp, then the cooking process stops, and it takes forever for the grill to get back up to temp because the potatoes keep sucking up heat.

 

You can throw presses and weights onto them to cook faster and trap rising heat.  If you can devote a whole side, and not just use the back, you can lay down a huge press that is usually used for like 20 steaks on a grill.  When they're hot slide them all towards the pile, lay new ones down.

 

I'd have to know more to be able to help you though. 

 

Also, get induction burners for some back table to heat up lunch's soups and free up some stove top space for eggs or something.  Get an induction you can maybe put off to the side for poached if your set up would allow it.  You'd have better heat control and it frees up more burners to solve a way bigger problem. 

 

You can put a six-pan in the corner of the flatop with fully cooked bacon, and keep turning it over with tongs, and they'll be hot.  You can just pull piles oout of that to crisp up real quick without using much space.

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