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Belgian Frites/Steak Frites - Best Method?


ejebud
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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.

In my experience first cooking is done during prep, not turnout. Often blanched potatoes are cooled off in the walkin prior to final frying.

McDonald's back when they fried fresh potatoes, did the first fry at 275 degrees. Suspect their volume back then qualified as very high. They also specified Idaho russetts. However any high specific gravity potato, low in moisture and sugar, should work well. Not all russet varieties are high specific gravity.

The purpose of the low temp first fry is to cook out as much moisture as possible without browning the potato. That won't happen at temperatures higher than 300 F

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Well, I am puzzled by this repartee.

Russet is a variety, but not all Russets are high S.G.?

But Idaho Russets are apparently OK because MacDonalds mandated it (surely not world-wide)!

I think Carey has backed HM int a corner.

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Good for him. I am at my best when cornered. :wink:

Are you questioning whether not all russets are high specific gravity? Some varieties are not which is why the statement that any russet can be used for deep fat frying is not always accurate - at leat not if one desires to prepare the best quality french fry.

It could have changed, but at least back in the time when McDonald's fresh fried potatoes, Idaho farmed russets were specified. Simplot, which worked with McD in developing the frozen fry, started off only with Idaho russets. It is very possible that McD demand has required the use of potatoes grown elsewhere, but I'm willing to bet they compare in specific gravity, sugar content, starch content and moisture with the Idaho russet.

I hope you are now unpuzzled.

Edited to add: I should say medium to high specific gravity. The Idaho Russet Burbank potato is considered medium specific gravity though it's moisture and sugar content is similar to higher specific gravity potatoes. Some russets are rated as low specific gravity.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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When MacDonald's was frying fresh potatoes they could probably have been completely supplied by one kitchen garden-sized plot in southeastern Idaho.

Although, actually, a relatively small area in southeastern Idaho is responsible for the majority of commercial Russet production, even if the entire state were wall-to-wall potato farms they could not supply today's MacDonald's needs in just the United States, let alone worldwide.

In my most recent book, I, in fact, recommend the Russet Burbank as the best all-round high starch potato. It was developed in Colorado in 1914, has a relatively high specific gravity and is excellent for both baking and frying.

You can come on out of that corner. I'm just about fried on the topic, although, not half baked. :biggrin:

Good for him.  I am at my best when cornered.  :wink:

Are you questioning whether not all russets are high specific gravity?  Some varieties are not which is why the statement that any russet can be used for deep fat frying is not always accurate - at leat not if one desires to prepare the best quality french fry.

It could have changed, but at least back in the time when McDonald's fresh fried potatoes, Idaho farmed russets were specified. Simplot, which worked with McD in developing the frozen fry, started off only with Idaho russets.  It is very possible that McD demand has required the use of potatoes grown elsewhere, but I'm willing to bet they compare in specific gravity, sugar content, starch content and moisture with the Idaho russet.

I hope you are now unpuzzled.

Edited to add:  I should say medium to high specific gravity.  The Idaho Russet Burbank potato is considered medium specific gravity though it's moisture and sugar content is similar to higher specific gravity potatoes.  Some russets are rated as low specific gravity.

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From "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America":

[ . . ]the Russet Burbank variety now accounts for the largest share of US baking potatoes as well as those processed into fries. Idaho and Washington, specializing in Russet Burbank, are the two leading producers; Wisconsin is a distant third.
In the United States the most common potates are low-moisture russets, among which are the trademarked Idaho potatoes (Russet Burbank).

The trademark name perhaps is a cause of confusion. I've never heard it in that form, but it likely was well-used at one time, particularly in formal specs for ordering from vendors. The "Idaho" part of the name might have been dropped for easier day-to-day verbalization. . .(?) :smile:

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I'm wondering about choice of frying medium. Jeffrey Steingarten has a whole chapter about cooking frites in horse fat in one of his books; here's blogger Pim posing the question to Harold McGee.

Hmmmmmm.

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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From "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America":
[ . . ]the Russet Burbank variety now accounts for the largest share of US baking potatoes as well as those processed into fries. Idaho and Washington, specializing in Russet Burbank, are the two leading producers; Wisconsin is a distant third.
In the United States the most common potates are low-moisture russets, among which are the trademarked Idaho potatoes (Russet Burbank).

The trademark name perhaps is a cause of confusion. I've never heard it in that form, but it likely was well-used at one time, particularly in formal specs for ordering from vendors. The "Idaho" part of the name might have been dropped for easier day-to-day verbalization. . .(?) :smile:

Actually, when I order from produce dealers with whom I have a relationship, all I order are "80-count bakers." That gets me a 50-pound box of nicely oval, #1, 10oz. Russet Burbank potatoes. :biggrin:

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Just a word on oil temperatures in home kitchens. I find that bringing the oil to 325F for the initial blanching is a good idea, because that gives you lots of room for the inevitable temperature drop when the potatoes go in. Similarly, for the final frying I bring the oil up to 375 or even a bit higher. I generally get good results.

Incidentally, even though they might not meet the McDonald's specs, potatoes such as Carolas or German Butterballs make fries that may remind the nostalgiacs among us more of the French bistrot experience.

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Actually, when I order from produce dealers with whom I have a relationship, all I order are "80-count bakers." That gets me a 50-pound box of nicely oval, #1, 10oz. Russet Burbank potatoes.  :biggrin:

No doubts or arguments on that count. :smile:

But names of things can be different at different times in different places.

The point is that the potato be low-moisture, high-solid, no?

Idaho or no Idaho, McDonald's or no McDonald's, seems to me the same tuber is being touted by both you and Holly. :wink:

Some may say potato, some may say potahto. No reason to call the whole thing off. :biggrin:

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As Chef Carey says a low moisture potato and accurate oil temperature are both vital. For the latter get a temperature probe even if using a home fryer - their thermostats are usually terrible, innacurate by up to 20%.

Heston Blumenthal's triple cooking method is also worth a go. It's a pretty much failsafe method for making fries that stay crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside:

1. Cut fries and rinse under running water for a few minutes, put in a pan of water and bring to a simmer. Remove just before they're about to fall apart, and cool/dry on a rack. Place in a fridge in until needed.

2. For the first fry, heat to around 140/284 degrees. Cook until they have a dry looking crust, but aren't coloured (probably 5-8 minutes). Remove and cool/dry on a rack again. Again, they can be put in the fridge until later if needed.

3. Do the final fry at around 190/374 degrees until golden. Add salt and a thick, rare steak to taste. :wink:

This method further reduces the steam inside the final chip, which is what usually makes the outside goes mushy after a couple of minutes. The only problem is that it's so effective you usuallly don't get that classic French bistro droop on the fries.

If just doing the double fry method then doing the rinse under running water (then drying) prior to frying should at least help ensure a lot of the interior moisture is cooked off before the outside gets brown, as well as mimimising the frying smell.

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It's also important that there be enough oil used to start with. . .generally for home cooking the formula lurks somewhere around a five quart pot, two quarts oil, and three of four faceless (but type-specific) potatoes. There are two separate camps of how to avoid overbrowning for small batches. One is to soak the cut potatoes in ice water (till almost frozen) before frying, the other is to warm the cut potatoes (spread out on a plate) slightly in a (gasp!) microwave just before dropping into the oil. One focuses on not overbrowning, the other focuses on not lowering the temp of the oil when the potatoes hit it. Another one of those potato/pohtahto things.

The third method, of course, is to take in a lost sous-chef who has good french fry credentials and experience and let him live in the kitchen just waiting for the chance to make "french fries". :rolleyes:

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It's also important that there be enough oil used to start with. . .generally for home cooking the formula lurks somewhere around a five quart pot, two quarts oil, and three of four faceless (but type-specific) potatoes. There are two separate camps of how to avoid overbrowning for small batches. One is to soak the cut potatoes in ice water (till almost frozen) before frying, the other is to warm the cut potatoes (spread out on a plate) slightly in a (gasp!) microwave just before dropping into the oil. One focuses on not overbrowning, the other focuses on not lowering the temp of the oil when the potatoes hit it. Another one of those potato/pohtahto things.

The third method, of course, is to take in a lost sous-chef who has good french fry credentials and experience and let him live in the kitchen  just waiting for the chance to make "french fries".  :rolleyes:

My fries aren't up to scratch, either. I've made notes here :-)

What kind of oil you you recommend?

Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

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Just from force of habit I use canola when making fries at home (which happens once in a blue moon :biggrin: because I do not like cleaning up from all it entails :sad: ). Holly's eG tutorial also suggests canola.

Curious, I took a look tonight at what Cook's Illustrated suggests, for their research accuracy is so detailed. They like peanut oil, with an optional 4 Tbs. strained bacon grease added to every 2 Qts. for flavor if desired. Interesting.

......................................................

Ah. More notes on nomenclature. . .the potato they specify is the "Russet Burbank Potato, often called the Idaho".

.......................................................

It seems to me that making french fries "well" at home has to do with knowing not only the procedures but also knowing your stove and whichever pot you are going to use. The varying degrees of heat that different stoves have the capabilities (or not) to give off is startling, and of course different pots handle heat differently too.

It's just getting to know the timing in your bones, so to speak, and sometimes that just takes practice.

So suffer the browned or limp-ed fries

Until you've had a couple of tries

Soon you'll find where pleasure lies

But till then

Hey

They're still potatoes!

(And what could be wrong with that?) :wink:

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Just from force of habit I use canola when making fries at home (which happens once in a blue moon :biggrin: because I do not like cleaning up from all it entails :sad: ). Holly's eG tutorial also suggests canola.

Curious, I took a look tonight at what Cook's Illustrated suggests, for their research accuracy is so detailed. They like peanut oil, with an optional 4 Tbs. strained bacon grease added to every 2 Qts. for flavor if desired. Interesting.

Very ... if I were going to add something for flavour, though, it would be beef fat :-) I don't know what the smoke point for beef fat is, but it can't be lower than bacon grease ...

On the whole, I like peanut oil, but if I thought they'd fry better in canola, I use that too, and certainly it's cheaper.

......................................................

Ah. More notes on nomenclature. . .the potato they specify is the "Russet Burbank Potato, often called the Idaho".

.......................................................

It seems to me that making french fries "well" at home has to do with knowing not only the procedures but also knowing your stove and whichever pot you are going to use. The varying degrees of heat that different stoves have the capabilities (or not) to give off is startling' date=' and of course different pots handle heat differently too.

It's just getting to know the timing in your bones, so to speak, and sometimes that just takes practice.

So suffer the browned or limp-ed fries

Until you've had a couple of tries

Soon you'll find where pleasure lies

But till then

Hey

They're still potatoes!

(And what could be wrong with that?) :wink:

[right']

I am a coward where large pots of boiling oil on an open flame is concerned. My preference is a thermostatically controlled fryer, but I expect that is a separate topic :-) I suspect that I need a much bigger one than I have, which I'm sure isn't helping, but every time I admire a huge fryer, DH says something like 'but there are only two of us ...'

It would probably be easier to convert him if he were a doughnut eater, but alas, his position on doughnuts is lukewarm at best.

But it would be kind of nice to be able to turn out a few frites when the mood strikes :-)

Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

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  • 1 month later...

A couple restaurants I've been to lately have tossed their French Fries with what I believe is Quatre épices.

This seems a bit odd to me.

Is it normal elsewhere in the world?

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Erik Ellestad

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  • 1 year later...

I'm over here in Belgium right now and I've had the most amazing pommes frites almost every place we've eaten. I've been eating meals with a number of pastry chefs and chocolatiers and of course we've all been curious as to how we could make fries as good as these.

Earlier today I met a delightful Turkish fellow who runs a fast food joint where I bought a couple of orders of frites for the gang while we waited for our ride back from Antwerp and I got to asking him some details about the fries.

He says the fresh cut potatoes are delivered to him daily. He cooks them in beef tallow. The first cook until just barely blonde is done at 150 degrees C, then when they are to be served he gives them a second cook at 180 to 185 degrees.

So - if we wanted to make these at home - what potatoes would you suggest starting with, and fat from what part of the beef carcass should be rendered to make tallow?

Anyone out there making their fries this way?

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  • 8 years later...

I've been making frites lately after discovering how to do it properly.  But reading through this thread I think a trick was missed relevant to the original question.

 

After the first frying, I've gotten very good results from freezing the frites and carrying out the last step, say, a week later.

 

My method it based on bourdain's.  Cut the fries and soak them in ice water for about an hour with some water changes near the end.  Fry at 280F for six minutes and remove to a sheet pan to cool.  If desired lay out some on a silicone mat in a sheet pan and freeze for later use - bagging them once they're frozen.

Finish at 375-380F.  I have noticed temperatures dips on both fryings, but it's almost as though the completion of the rebound coincides the end of that step (as though the water content is regulating the temp)..

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  • 2 weeks later...

A few years ago I was watching an episode of ATK.

The host said: "There's a saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well that theory is disproven today. We have always used the deep fry then remove and drain then increase the oil temp then deep fry the potatoes a second time. We have discovered a 'new trick' which makes fries even better".

Here's the method, which I have since used dozens of times with excellent results:

Large heavy pot with room temperature deep frying oil of your choice obviously only about half full.

Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes cut into your basic McDonalds size pieces. As you cut up the potatoes just drop them into the room temp. oil. Obviously you don't overfill the pot.

Put the pot on the stove top. Turn on heat to high.

When the oil comes to a rolling boil turn down the heat a little to maintain the boil but not to risk the oil from spilling over.

As long as the oil is bubbling away that means the water in/on the potatoes is getting removed. 

After about ten minutes you will see the oil stop boiling at the same time as the fries are turning a nice golden brown. Don't let them get too dark.

Remove with a 'spider'. Into a bowl with paper towels in the bottom. Add whatever vinegar/seasoning you like. Shake the fries.

Eat delicious crispy fries.

Made some last night. I use refined coconut oil. After it's cooled I refrigerate it. It can be used many times as long as I only use it for fries.

 

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2 hours ago, pufin3 said:

A few years ago I was watching an episode of ATK.

The host said: "There's a saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well that theory is disproven today. We have always used the deep fry then remove and drain then increase the oil temp then deep fry the potatoes a second time. We have discovered a 'new trick' which makes fries even better".

Here's the method, which I have since used dozens of times with excellent results:

Large heavy pot with room temperature deep frying oil of your choice obviously only about half full.

Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes cut into your basic McDonalds size pieces. As you cut up the potatoes just drop them into the room temp. oil. Obviously you don't overfill the pot.

Put the pot on the stove top. Turn on heat to high.

When the oil comes to a rolling boil turn down the heat a little to maintain the boil but not to risk the oil from spilling over.

As long as the oil is bubbling away that means the water in/on the potatoes is getting removed. 

After about ten minutes you will see the oil stop boiling at the same time as the fries are turning a nice golden brown. Don't let them get too dark.

Remove with a 'spider'. Into a bowl with paper towels in the bottom. Add whatever vinegar/seasoning you like. Shake the fries.

Eat delicious crispy fries.

Made some last night. I use refined coconut oil. After it's cooled I refrigerate it. It can be used many times as long as I only use it for fries.

 

Ah "Shelby" fries! She couldn't remember where she saw the method apparently. "Shelby" fries

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  • 2 weeks later...

The thought that things sitting in oil will get greasy makes sense superficially. Some thoughts re potatoes and oil...

 

Cold oil isn't more greasy than hot oil.

 

Unlike a breaded piece of meat, the surface of a potato is watery, which repels oil. Moreover the surface is solid rather than filled with pockets where oil can absorb.

 

So it makes sense that the steingarten/robouchon potatoes are no more greasy than a McDs fry.

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