Advice for better fries

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by Tree, May 24, 2018.

  1. Tree

    Tree

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    Hey y'all so I've taken upon myself to improve the fries at a bar restaurant which was done the way the previous cook did it:
    1. Wash potatoes, fry cutter, soak in water overnight with bit of lemon juice
    2. Fry at 250F for 6 mins, chill then fry at 375F

    They normally come out very dark, mostly soft and soggy. But in Montreal this seems to be the standard as poutine is obviously a big thing. Back home in Australia I've always had crunchy fries and so I made Kenji Lopez's perfect fries which came out great, the staff and boss seemed to like it although it is a little more labor intensive we agree it's worth it. I also froze them after pre-fry.

    I came in for my first shift yesterday for the week and apparently we got a complaint 1-2 days ago that it was too oily. Normally the fries are stored in the bus bin but we've started portioning them in ziplocks and I noticed there was a lot of frost in the packets. Anyways threw them in the fryer and as expected came out crispy but also soaked a ton of oil!

    I recall the very first batch of blanching I overcooked it. Could this be a reason why? Anyone kindly share your secrets for better fries? And time saving short cuts? Is freezing really necessary?

    P.S I've only been working at this place for a month and this is my first time line cooking

    Merci!!
     
  2. someday

    someday

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    Honestly, my advice is to find the best tasting frozen fries from your vendor and use those. If you are going through all the steps of cutting,
    Soaking, blanching, freezing, and frying...and they still aren’t turning out right, why bother? There are some excellent frozen fries on the market and I would rather have a good/great frozen fry than a crappy handmade one.

    I’m almost always against convenience and pre made stuff, but fries to me are the exception.

    You don’t need to freeze but some people think it helps. Don’t portion when the fries are still warm and you shouldn’t get frost. Maybe turn your dryer down a bit on the second fry. I do t know if you need lemon juice either in the soak.

    There aren’t really any shortcuts or anything, proper fries are a labor of love. Like I said, if you can explore frozen options maybe try that. You might be surprised.
     
  3. Tree

    Tree

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    Hey thanks for the response,
    You know, that [frozen fries] was my initial suggestion to the boss but his desire for authenticity and bragging rights for when customers ask is stronger than the end result. But it's possible to persuade him to the dark frozen side after a few drinks haha...Plus the best selling item on the menu is probably wings and that comes straight out of the packet!
    We actually have about a dozen large bags of frozen fries which I guess at some point got succeeded by DIY fries and texture wise I really like em but flavour does leave something to be desired. So as you say, just find the best tasting supplier.

    Found this article just before my shift today:
    http://www.cookingissues.com/index.html?p=4043.html

    It is indeed a labour of love and there's no many variables to consider. I'm going to keep experimenting for a little longer and if it doesn't work out I will throw in the towel
     
  4. Born_Into_It

    Born_Into_It

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    We started home cut fries about a month ago. We had a 50/50 split on the reception. So we tweaked a bit.

    What we do now is twice a week (when we change oil) is literally pound out about 300# of fries each time. Blanch in 300 degree for 3 minutes. Let dry on sheet pans for an hour (I use the grates, but paper towels should work too)

    Freeze the batches but keep enough thawed for service and fry at 375 again to order.

    We let them go for about a minute, they come out golden, toss with salt and serve.

    Learned quick that it does take more work to cook per order, but zero complaints since!

    I was ready to go back to sysco fries after a week of complaints and compliments but stuck it out. Well worth it.

    What potato are you using too? I get 80 ct russets and go 1/8th inch too. Smaller is better for crispness!

    Good luck, it can be a love/hate from consumers, but my guys are dedicated to keep them homemade which makes it even more worthwhile!
     
  5. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    You might want to look seriously at Heston Blumenthal's triple-cooked chips. They really are spectacular, and he's been very open about method.

    One thing I noticed: the point of freezing is to dry the fries. So freezing in Ziploc bags isn't going to work. Perhaps you could freeze them on trays for a while, and then portion in bags first thing in the morning? Or last thing before knocking off for the night?

    If they're absorbing oil, you may not be trying hot enough.
     
  6. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    No, the temperature is right. The soaking, though: why? Try blanching them gently until a bit cooked. The closer you take them to tender, the more meltingly wonderful the final interior will be. Then freeze for a while, uncovered -- a good hour. That helps pull out a lot of water. Fry lightly, let freeze uncovered again, and portion in the morning and leave cold. Final fry to order at 350-375.
     
  7. butzy

    butzy

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    Soaking in salt water helps if the potatoes contain a lot of moisture.
    We have to do this certain times of the year (rainy season)
     
  8. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    First I will say Congratulations for doing fresh french fries. So few places do them any more and there really is no substitute.
    Born into it has the process I would most agree with.
    Here's my suggestions.
    Russet potatoes, Chefs if Russets aren't available although other varieties can be experimented with.
    Wash well. Peeling is optional but cleanliness is vital.
    Cut the french fries, store in a bucket of plain water no longer than 24 hours, preferably same day. As you cut the fries, check for black spots and other irregularities and remove them.
    Drain, dry and blanch at 275-300 just until limp. Drain and cool on sheet pans. Store in shallow containers so they don't crush. Don't freeze.
    Fry to order at 350-375. A bit of experimenting/tweaking with temps and times. Prepare just enough for the day's service.
    Of vital importance as well is the type of oil you fry in and its' care and maintenance. Peanut oil is the best vegetable based oil and not so expensive if well maintained and only fries are cooked in it.
    Make sure the potatoes are as dry as possible. Water is a great destroyer of oil. As you fry, use a fine wire mesh to skim off all the little bits that come up. When not in use, keep the oil covered to keep out air and light.
    It's best if you can devote one fryer to only french fries. Other foods will alter the flavor of the oil and further its' degrading. If you must fry other foods, strain the oil frequently.
    When you change the oil, strain the old oil and add some back to the new batch. Fresh oil won't have as much flavor. The oil is best after frying a few batches but to avoid the delay, adding a bit of the old (about ten percent) contributes the flavor.
    Overall, treat this with the same importance you would give any other dish/ingredient. Potatoes, if treated with respect, offer a remarkably affordable boost to any menu when done well.
    I should add that some complaints will come not from any error on your part but from individual preferences. Fresh french fries can be cooked to varying degrees of doneness and people will have distinct preferences although they may not realize it.
    #1- just cooked. (From raw, not pre-blanched). Cook them from raw at 350 just past the point of limpness and have a bit of color. A bit more cooked and colored than they will be when pre blanched.
    #2- Crisp edges. Stiffer with crisp exterior and soft interior, browned edges. This stage is generally thought of by most people as a properly cooked french fry.
    #3- Browned. Two minutes or so past a standard cooked fry, these have very little soft interior and are nearly crisp throughout.
    Each stage takes a precise amount of time for a precise amount of potato, which you can record and use for staff training. I can't recall the amounts and times for each stage but when using the same potatoes, this can be measured and used as a general guideline.
    Naturally, the more effort you devote to this process, the more dedicated time wise you will need to be staff wise but a system can be devised to make the fry production simple and quick and the return on investment is well worth it for the price of potatoes.
    I think that's it but if I remember anything else I'll post it.
     
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  9. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    In essence, Blumenthal's fries go like this:

    Peel and cut. Leave in a bowl under gently running cold water 5-10 minutes to remove excess starch. Blanch very gently until just barely this side of falling apart. Drain. Leave on a rack in the freezer to dry 1 hour. (The freezer is extremely dry and this removes a lot of water.)

    Fry at 130c / 265f until just taking color, about 5 minutes. Drain and return to the cooling rack. Freeze at least an hour. Overnight is fine.

    Fry at 180c / 350f until golden, about 7-8 minutes. Drain, salt, and serve.

    I've done this and let me just say, they were absolutely the best fries I've ever eaten.
     
  10. planethoff

    planethoff

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    I have always followed this method aside from the freezer part. I just left out at room temp to dry. Thanks. I will try that.

    And I want to third the concept of a pre blanch soak.
     
  11. Tree

    Tree

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    Sorry for a very late response, thanks heaps for chiming in mon chefs.

    I'm willing to try all these methods but it's gonna take quite some time as there's usually one guy in the kitchen doing dishes, prep, line and occasionally one of the bosses will jump in on the plating when I'm in the weeds. But summer is coming so hopefully there'll be two in the kitchen. I'll try answer each person:

    Born:
    We use chef potatoes, brand changes sometimes as the delivery man is the boss himself so it depends on whatever's in stock or on special.
    A fry cutter is used to cut the fries so can't change it - about 1 cm thick pre blanched/fried.
    Freezing after the pre-fry does give nice results but we just can't facilitate that yet in volume because crappy walk in freezer, too much work portioning when there's only one guy in the kitchen and taking care of everything else. Hopefully there will be one more for the summer.

    Chris:
    Heston's method - sorry but fuggetaboutit! I'll try it at home sometime though!
    We've started blanching in water regularly and I've noticed less cooking time = more firm, holds better longer shapes vs longer cooking time = more crunchy end result but falls apart during handling.

    One thing to note though is if the fry is too dry then it becomes an oil sponge. Super crunchy but super greasy. At least I think that's what happened after 3 days in the freezer, or freezer burn maybe.

    chefwriter
    No sheet pans sadly, we use canola as there's worry about peanut allergies. Only one fryer working at a time usually because boss is cheap and we are very low volume; except between 9pm-11pm when I get hit with 10 tickets at once…

    Not sure I'm able to micro manage the oil this well and cooking precision, we don't even have timers to which I have pleaded to the boss
     
  12. chefross

    chefross

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    I've been following the thread.
    I have lots of experience with Pomme Frites. Made them almost every day for over 18 years albeit for only a few people, but the concept is the same.
    I took the liberty to research and selected 5 recipes from a Google search.
    Allrecipes.com, epicurious.com among them.
    The temps and times varied dramatically.
    I read where the fries should be blanched until just about done for the first frying all the way to 30 seconds only for same.

    Whichever method you choose, you simply cannot drop the fries in the grease and walk away. Care must be given to insure the fries brown evenly and crisp up. I find I must leave the fries as the last item to finish the plates. I stand over the fryer and use a wooden spoon to stir the fries in the grease so they brown properly. My fries are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
     
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