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.