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Belgian Frites/Steak Frites - Best Method?


ejebud
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...some say its okay to do that with starchy potatoes...

...some say iced water is best...

...some say just chuck the whole lot of cut frites in the freezer in a freezer bag and commence frying the next day or... whenever...

...I'd say, give it a go...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Scroll about 2/3 the way down this page of Holly Moore's wonderful ECI course on Drive-in Cooking for the quintessential course on cooking fries. The associated Question and Answer is great, as well. In case Holly misses this topic, you might want to add your question to the Question and Answer.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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How could I ever miss a thread on Pommes Frittes. One of life's major frustrations is the state of the American french fry. And even when restaurants make the effort the end up shoe-stringing them ie ruining them. But I digress.

I tend to consume any fries ready for frying the same day so have never held potatoes over night. My only concern would be water absorption. But unless anyone else hereabouts has given it a try, you can be the first and report back. :smile:

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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How could I ever miss a thread on Pommes Frittes.  One of life's major frustrations is the state of the American french fry.  And even when restaurants make the effort the end up shoe-stringing them ie ruining them.  But I digress.

I tend to consume any fries ready for frying the same day so have never held potatoes over night.  My only concern would be water absorption.  But unless anyone else hereabouts has given it a try, you can be the first and report back.  :smile:

actually i have heard that you can keep them in the ice box overnight, so long as they sit in water. and to keep them from browning i once heard that you can add a little vinegar to the water to keep them from browning.. that suggestion came from one of the cooking programs on food network. while id love to say that tip came from emeril, i honestly dont remember and ive never tried it.

however, if you want get a better fry out of it, one thing i have learned by trial and error is to not only drain the water very well but also toss some into a cheese cloth a little at a time, twist it up so that you can swing it around and nothing will fall out except water. ive also tried that particular method with freshly grated hash browns and it works wonder, though for those i just squeeze the hell out of them because i dont have to worry about breakage, but you will find the method that works best for you

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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do you need to cut them the night before? I ran the food-service at a community campus with a school in it - we went through a lot of fries. I had a commercial peeler and cutter ( thick-cut), so we'd peel about 300-400 lbs. of potatoes at a time, into buckets and covered with water. Into the cooler until the next day. Then we'd cut them and blanch them. Freeze them on trays then bag them.

They worked beautifully.

I *think* they'd work well cut, as long as you could remove as much moisture as possible before frying.

no need to add vinegar to the water. As long as they're submerged, they shouldn't brown.

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I've had no problems holding 1/4" fries overnight in water, and haven't really needed to dry them out thoroughly, either, but i would imagine you would need to if you were frying them at home. Restaurants have the luxury of huge fryers that won't boil over from that extra water. A long soak, i have found, is actually beneficial for fries after they have been cut, in that it rinses off excess starches/sugars that don't really contribute to crispiness, and often end up over-caramelizing, the result being over-brown fries that aren't even crisp on the exterior. double-"boo".

on a bit of a tangent: what do you frites lovers prefer when at a french bistro? thin, shoestring fries, thicker, ~1/4" bar-style fries, or somewhere in between (i.e. McDonald's size, albeit house-made from non-bionic potatoes)? i'm in the process of opening a new bistro with my bosses, and i've been leery of their preference for the shoestring variety. i suppose it's more "traditional," but i think the 1/8" middle-ground is a better fry. thoughts?

-jason

Will cook for food.

jasonbissey@yahoo.com

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Can I cut the potatoes and hold them overnight in the fridge submerged in water?  Then drain them the next morning to do the first fry at low temperature?  It would be logistically groovy if I can.

Eric

have held for a couple of days. Cover with water then a side towel to keep em from oxidizing on top. After a few days ya need to change out the water.

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....

on a bit of a tangent:  what do you frites lovers prefer when at a french bistro?  thin, shoestring fries, thicker, ~1/4" bar-style fries, or somewhere in between (i.e. McDonald's size, albeit house-made from non-bionic potatoes)?  i'm in the process of opening a new bistro with my bosses, and i've been leery of their preference for the shoestring variety.  i suppose it's more "traditional," but i think the 1/8" middle-ground is a better fry.  thoughts?

-jason

There is a place here in Philadelphia, Monk's Cafe that does Pommes Frites and has a quasi-Belgium theme - mussels, burgers with Belgian names. When they first opened they started off with shoestring fries. For me, chalk screeching on a blackboard.

I mustered my bluster and convinced the owner to switch over to 1/4" fries. More authentic to Belgium and a better fry - consistently mealy on the inside, crisp on the outside.

That lasted less than a week. All of his customers complained. I theorized that they were weaned on McDonald's fries, and had to have shoestrings.

I'm hoping the customers are more advanced in Durham, but, alas, probably not.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I dont get the obsession with Fried Fries....I think the flavour and texture of a good oven baked fry is better than anything fried, not to mention exponentially healthier...

Made some the other night, cut em up, slathered with good evoo, added some garlic, sea salt, pepper, thyme, and some onions...baked in a 350 oven turning all the while...

Crispy, Crunchy, soft on the inside...yummmm

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I've honestly had more thin-ish (I wouldn't quite call them shoestring but closer to that end of the spectrum than to 1/4-inch size) in bistros throughout the US, France and Belgium (although not recently in the latter case). Not that I have intentionally covered all parts of those countries with a measuring device, mind you, but I've been exposed to enough of the thinner ones I'm surprised to hear of your misgivings about the bosses' preference for them and Holly's subsequent comment.

I definitely prefer thicker ones when dining in a not-French/Belgian resturant/bar.

I guess my conclusion is, I prefer them thicker but the ones done properly, in the Belgian style, are so superior that I don't mind that they're not so thick. Hmm. Now you have me thinking I need to go to my local boite (sorry, too lazy for the circonflex) and demand that they start using 1/4-inch potatoes (and that's a very scary proposition, since the Marseillaise chef/owner has a somewhat legendary temper).

Edited by moosnsqrl (log)

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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For the few times we indulge in frites at home...

Being a home cook for just two, days in advance prep is not an issue. However, I usually peel, cut and chill (in ice water) the potatoes a few hours ahead then dry them thoroughly before blanching and frying.

I prefer a 1/4 inch cut for frites and as condiment... a nice mayonnaise.

...

Of course, chips for fish is a whole different story :rolleyes:

Edited by gourmande (log)

Cheese: milk’s leap toward immortality – C.Fadiman

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you can hold them for a little while in the water, but it's way easier to par-fry them first and hold them half cooked. Also, they will get shocked a little in the fridge, and you can serve them quicker and they will be crispier.

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There is a place here in Philadelphia, Monk's Cafe that does Pommes Frites and has a quasi-Belgium theme - mussels, burgers with Belgian names.  When they first opened they started off with shoestring fries.  For me, chalk screeching on a blackboard. 

I mustered my bluster and convinced the owner to switch over to 1/4" fries.  More authentic to Belgium and a better fry - consistently mealy on the inside, crisp on the outside. 

That lasted less than a week.  All of his customers complained.  I theorized that they were weaned on McDonald's fries, and had to have shoestrings.

I'm hoping the customers are more advanced in Durham, but, alas, probably not.

You might find Durham to be more savvy than would be expected... I was certainly suprised when I moved here from Boston. But back to frites...

There is a potato-cutter bolted into an inconvenient place on the wall in, I'd say, 50% of the restaurants in North America. Usually, it's fitted with a rusting, starch-sodden 1/4" die, that gives us the familiar almost-crispy-enough fry. But I THINK there is another die that is somewhere between the shoestring size that the julienne blade on a mandoline delivers and the usual "bar fry" size. To my mind, just a little less fluffy meal on the inside, with consequent increase in crunchiness on the exterior would be the pinnacle of the fry. And also, shoestrings just aren't a proper mayonnaise-ingestion device... something more substantial is required.

You'll have to forgive me. I've obviously been thinking about this far too much.

-jason.

Will cook for food.

jasonbissey@yahoo.com

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Well folks, here's what I did:

We used a 3/8 inch blade in a commercial french fry cutter. I had a food grade pail with ice water and a pasta pot insert. As I cut the fries they immediateley went into the pasta insert. I moved them to the fridge where they sat overnight submerged in chilled water ( approx. 15 hours) the next morning, I pulled up the pasta insert and sat it in yet another pail to allow to drain during the drive to the test kitchen I rented for my recipe/procedures testing. When I got to theplace the oil in the fryer was black as crude. Luckily I covered all the bases and bought my own 35# jug of Creamy stuff. Drained/filled with water/scrubbed/drained again/dried/filled the fryer. Put it on to 275, allowed the water pops to stop and blanch fried the fries for 4-5 minutes. Dumped them on a paper lined sheet pan Then into the fridge for an hour or so. Cranked up the fryer to 375. We asked some friends and family to come in around lunch time to help us eat all the test subjects. We were able to cook the fries to order. They were fabulous!! They got rave reviews. Also I should mention that 2 folks took em wrapped up "to go" I checked in with them after to see how they traveled and the concensus was that they retained a fair amount of crispiness. Several of their co-workers chimed in saying that they were the best take out fries they ever had. Of course when you compare them to frozen fries they are an easy winner.

Thanks for all your input here. I really appreciate it.

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Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Well folks, here's what I did:

....

... We asked some friends and family to come in around lunch time to help us eat all the test subjects. We were able to cook the fries to order.  They were fabulous!!  They got rave reviews.  Also I should mention that 2 folks took em wrapped up "to go"  I checked in with them after to see how they traveled and the concensus was that they retained a fair amount of crispiness.  Several of their co-workers chimed in saying that they were the best take out fries they ever had.  Of course when you compare them to frozen fries they are an easy winner.

Thanks for all your input here. I really appreciate it.

One of the reasons places get lazy and don't make the effort to do fresh cut, twice fried fries is that the final fry has to be done in a relatively small batch and is best done to order. If the fry basket is crammed full of fries for the final cooking or the fries are held for even a few minutes prior to serving there is a major nosedive in quality. You'll need to work that degree of timing into your production system.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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  • 11 months later...

So about a week ago, my significant other and I decided to have a true french bistro experience cooked at home. Steak au poivre and frites were on the menu. We checked out a couple of recipes for the frites. Plunge the potatoes in hot oil (350) for about 3 min, remove them, repeat until brown. This was suppose to give them a light, crispy, fluffy taste. Instead we ended with mushy and greasy. Where did we go wrong????? HELP.

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A couple of possibilities here. But, only a couple.

What quantity of oil did you have relative to the potatoes? We recommend never filling the basket more than half full. You temperature was fine, could even have been 360, but it does drop considerably when you drop the food in. If your volume of potatoes was too great you could actually have been cooking below 200 degrees. The potatoes will absorb tons of oil if this was the case. They will never crisp. Also, did you dry the potatoes before dropping them in the oil? Until the water cooks way the temperature of the outside of the potato cannot rise above 212.

Secondly, if you did not allow the oil to come back to temperature after the first batch, the temperature could well have been too low. Same result.

When you do this procedure properly, the technique works every time, without fail.

So about a week ago, my significant other and I decided to have a true french bistro experience cooked at home.  Steak au poivre and frites were on the menu.  We checked out a couple of recipes for the frites.  Plunge the potatoes in hot oil (350) for about 3 min, remove them, repeat until brown.  This was suppose to give them a light, crispy, fluffy taste.  Instead we ended with mushy and greasy.  Where did we go wrong????? HELP.

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A couple of possibilities here. But, only a couple.

What quantity of oil did you have relative to the potatoes? We recommend never filling the basket more than half full. You temperature was fine, could even have been 360, but it does drop considerably when you drop the food in. If your volume of potatoes was too great you could actually have been cooking below 200 degrees. The potatoes will absorb tons of oil if this was the case. They will never crisp. Also, did you dry the potatoes before dropping them in the oil? Until the water cooks way the temperature of the outside of the potato cannot rise above 212.

Secondly, if you did not allow the oil to come back to temperature after the first batch, the temperature could well have been too low. Same result.

When you do this procedure properly, the technique works every time, without fail.

So about a week ago, my significant other and I decided to have a true french bistro experience cooked at home.  Steak au poivre and frites were on the menu.  We checked out a couple of recipes for the frites.  Plunge the potatoes in hot oil (350) for about 3 min, remove them, repeat until brown.  This was suppose to give them a light, crispy, fluffy taste.  Instead we ended with mushy and greasy.  Where did we go wrong????? HELP.

Yes, we did all of that. We actually split the batch into 4 small portions. Does the choice of potatoe matter???

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The first cooking of the potatoes should be at 275 degrees.  Then finish off at 375 degress.

See the french fry portion of my class for the eGullet Culinary Institute.

Do you work for the "Idaho" Potato Board? :biggrin:

The potato is a "Russet" and it don't make no nevermind where it comes from.

Oh, and that 275 degrees is not acceptable for restaurant use. Too slow. Speed is essential on the cooking line and there is a wide degree of temperature variation possible on that first cooking, unless of course, one is doing pommes de terre souffle, as I did this week. 375 "kills" the oil too quickly for restaurant use.

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Definately russets. Did you soak the potatoes in cold water for a while? I find that helps a lot. I also let the potatoes cool right down before putting them back in oil

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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