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How do you do french fries at your place?

Poll Results: How do you do french fries in your restaurant?

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 15% of voters (8)
    Frozen
  • 26% of voters (14)
    Fresh Cut
  • 11% of voters (6)
    Peel On
  • 9% of voters (5)
    Peeled
  • 36% of voters (19)
    Two Step Cooking Process
  • 0% of voters (0)
    One Step Cooking Process
  • 17% of voters (9)
    Thin Cut
  • 5% of voters (3)
    Thick Cut/"Steak" Fries
  • 0% of voters (0)
    Waffle
  • 1% of voters (1)
    Curly
52 Total Votes  
post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

The french fry thread in the non professional section got me wondering about the current state of french fry affairs. French fries are one of our key starch choices in America, and surely one of our best profit making items.

 

The debate centers around the fresh v frozen issue. Frozen offers consistency and some labor savings. There is also some debate among the science types that freezing offers inherent benefits in quality vs fresh.

 

 

My current preferred practice is to use a unpeeled, thin cut, two stage fry. Alas, my work uses frozen fries.

 

Some french fry notes and observations:

 

Thomas Keller of Bouchon and French Laundry uses frozen fries at Bouchon.

 

Acidulated water blanching is gaining popularity as a method for par cooking fries.

 

In-N-Out, a hugely popular west coast burger chain makes their fries from fresh cut potatoes. They peel em, cut them, wash them, and use a one step fry. Even though they sell a LOT of fries, people seem to have a love or hate attitude towards them. My family always orders them well done to get a better taste and texture. I think they taste a little too much like potato chips, instead of french fries for my taste. Another factor seems to be that their oil is too fresh and clean. They use pure veg oil, so it doesn't have any of the flavor additives that a McD's would have. 'Old oil' always seems to make better fried foods.

 

One of the neatest gimmicks I've seen was at this now defunct chili place (owner died, sadly). They would curly cut your fries to order.

 

My culinary school used frozen fries in its restaurants and feeding operations, despite having buttloads of free labor.

 

El Pollo Loco sweet potato fries are pretty darn good. They've found a way to make them crispy.

 

El Pollo Compero yucca fries are good too, but I can't get anyone too go eat there with me.

post #2 of 26
Thread Starter 

Have you guys heard of anyone making waffle cut fries from fresh potatoes?

 

I've made gaufrettes with the mandoline before, as either a garnish or a side dish. But they are more like potato chips, and not substantial like a french fry.

 

I think more people order them because of the seasoning the manufactures add, then because of the shape.

post #3 of 26

I'm actually of the opinion that frozen fries are better. This is just about the only thing I will concede that point on. I've experienced every type of fry, and consistently found the best ones to be frozen. 

 

There are a lot of variables, to be sure, and french fries can be bad or great either way, but I think frozen is the way to go. 

post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I'm starting to lean your way, but the aesthetic of fresh cut fries is so appealing that I really really don't want frozen to be better.

post #5 of 26

There's also the Heston Blumenthal 3-step method: Simmered in unsalted water, par-cooked at 250F then finished at 350F. I've had them prepared like this and they're pretty phenomenal. Too bad they're also a back-breaker labor-wise.

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post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 

Huh, I'd have thought a 3 step would have been redundant.

 

I've been reading what some of the molecular gastronomy guys are working on in regards to french fries.

 

1) An extended low temp pre-blanch. ~3/4 of an hour at 65 deg C. This develops the crust, at the expense of interior creamyness. It's got to do with activation of naturally occuring enzymes in the potato that mess with pectins or something.

2) Enzyme additive wierdness that I won't go into.

3) Extended blanch in 3% brine. Just so the potato is slightly over cooked.

 

I think I might try out the brine blanch with the addition of vinegar.

post #7 of 26

We use the 3 cook hand cut process.. I had used in a few places before and had problems with pots of labour intensive chips ending up as watery mash!!! So I thought why not steam them in a combi??? Works GREAT. While Cleaning down at the end of service, we steam the chips, leave in the chiller over night, then theyre ready for 2 step blanching in the morning. Only draw back is if you go down in the middle of service :ouch:

post #8 of 26

we go through about 200lbs of fries per week.

 

cut fries into 5g buckets

fill with water, swirl, drain.  3 times

fill bucket with hot water and 1/4c white vinegar. (delays Malliard sp? reaction)

let soak for 2 hours MINIMUM

blanch in fryer at 260.

fry for service at 350.

 

post #9 of 26
My buddy is a sous at a place that is legit going through 9 cases of gpods(i.e. 450# ) a day, Fresh Cut!! They do a two step process, Cut, peel on (thin 1/4 inch) and soaked in water for about 30 minutes then into a 350 fryer fresh oil, sheet trayed on paper, cooled and then a 2.5 minute 500 degree fry at moment of service.

Seriously good crisp crisp outside hot mush inside perfection.

this is a 24 hour operation, really there is an employee that works 12 midnight to 8 am cutting blanching and cooling. If this isn't available, do not try this at home...
post #10 of 26

Would it be possible to freeze after blanching the first time?

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tankster1 View Post

Would it be possible to freeze after blanching the first time?

 

Yes if the first blanch is in acidulated water it is one of the many ways to get a 'crispier' fry.

 

The freezing causes ice crystals to form that poke holes in the fry itself and when cooked allows more steam to escape thus crispier.

 

It is a key step in the way that McDonalds manufactures their fries.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #12 of 26

A long time ago, and I'm talking like mid-late '70's, there was a gyro place by my house that made killer fries from an extruded mash. They came squished out of a machine that looked like a pasta maker, and dropped right into the oil. My goodness. Those fries were great. 

post #13 of 26

Probably an extruder machine

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post #14 of 26

Thats the way commercial fries are done.

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post #15 of 26

There are good ones and there are terrible ones. The cheaper they are the more water they have and shorten fat life a lot.. Some are extruded fries . that is chopped and broken peices of potato compressed to look like a fry . Like c\Chcken Mc anything.   Sysco Stealth fry is like this.

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post #16 of 26

Thanks for your response.  We have been soaking in water for 30 minutes.  Blanching at 325, freezing and then frying at service at 375.  Still extremely inconsistent.  One order they are crisp and wonderful, they next they are limp and greasy.  I have been trying to perfect this for several months now and am ready to give up.  Havent heard of the acidulated water ste[, do you think that makes the difference?  Any advice is appreciated! 

post #17 of 26

Acidulated water firms up the pectin so that they don't break apart as easily while doing them.  

 

You don't need much - and only cook till done, not overdone as some sites say.

 

Let cool on racks and then freeze - cook in oil from frozen or else you get mush.

 

(2 step process - where the prep can be done before hand and then the product held in the freezer - unless you are doing different shapes and or specific varieties of potatoes it's a lot of work)

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
post #18 of 26

Thanks, I will try that before throwing in the towel!

post #19 of 26
As a customer, I hate eating french fries or chips for that matter. They taste like eating bits of card boards and so tasteless even with seasoning. Yuk!
post #20 of 26
I've done the fresh in brine and the twice fried method. But for consistently I switched back to frozen. Plus my staff sure doesn't miss the total pain in the ass of doing them fresh.

It's one of the only things I will admit that frozen is better.
post #21 of 26

I am glad I am not the only one with this problem.  It gets to be an all consuming quest for unattainable perfection!!

post #22 of 26

Try subjecting to steam for a few minutes then dry out and deep fry..  Some manufacturers do this to save oil.

 

 It is allmost impossible for you to achieve a consistant product as every time you buy potatoes they are different. Some even though same variety more water then others, some more sugar, some more starch.  The big manudfacturers ie Simplot, Oreida etc buy 100000 pounds at one time from 1 source. And all processed mechanicaly

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post #23 of 26

I've worked with several restaurants on improving their fries. A great fry is a real traffic magnet.

 

The basics of our process are:

 

  1. Use an Idaho potato and make sure it's not older than 9 months. Older potatoes can greatly affect the end product. If you are using the same method and getting different results, you may be getting inconsistent potatoes to start with. There is always a changing variable if the result is inconsistent.
  2. Cut the potatoes, peel on or off.
  3. Soak in water in 5 gallon buckets overnight to remove some of the starch. (The 3 step boil method with a boil, fry, fry step would probably accomplish the same thing but it sounds like more work)
  4. Drain well or spin dry in a salad spinner.
  5. Par fry (blanch) at 325 until the fry softens but does not brown. (I've heard many others using temps as low as 275 for this step, or boiling in water, successfully, without much difference in the end product)
  6. CHILL THE FRIES
  7. Fry to order at 350 degrees.

 

In trouble shooting problems with fresh fry cooking methods, the most common mistakes that result in limp fries are; skipping the first blanch fry or blanch boil step, not chilling the fries between the blanch and fry steps, or using potatoes that are too old. The last is the hardest to avoid.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 

I caught that diner's and dives program on Food Network tonight. The chef at one of the places they featured was careful to mention that he specially orders old potatoes for his fries because he thinks they have less sugar. IIRC the word he used was 'aged'

post #25 of 26

1 - Cut fries (skin on) and soak in hot water/vinegar for at least 10 minutes

2 - Drain and par-fry/blanch at 300 for 10-12 minutes

3 - Chill

4 - Fry at 375 to serve

5 - Season (we do parm, parsley, garlic and salt)

 

Since I've started working here, I judge all other fries so much more strictly.

post #26 of 26

Thanks DruHocker, I haven't heard to soak them in warm water before.

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