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Q&A -- Drive-in Cooking

44 posts in this topic

I love this.

Question -- I think that the best onion rings are batter fried. And I tend to avoid those places who use cornmeal in their breading. Too harsh on the tongue.


Edited by Stone (log)

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Holly, given your predilection for this kind of food, do you have any preference on anti-diahhreal and other upset stomach medications, such as Imodium, Mylanta and Pepto-Bismol?

Also, what's your opinion on the use of Shout versus traditional, as well as non tradiitonal methods for grease stain removal?


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I love this.

Question -- I think that the best onion rings are batter fried.  And I tend to avoid those places who use cornmeal in their breading.  Too harsh on the tongue.

I'm not of the batter fried school.

I'm of the breadcrumb school, but I'd like to add that onion rings should be deep fried, well done to the point of almost getting burned. Theres like a 15 second window where you either achieve perfection or cremate everything.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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This is very cool. I think I'll need to have burgers, fries, and a shake for dinner tomorrow.

I've found for french fries that if you toss the once-fried potatoes in salt and whatever other seasonings your using before the 2nd fry they come out more evenly seasoned. You can also make a lower fat version by blanching the potatoes in boiling water rather than oil for the first cooking.

For the milshakes if you've got a cash & carry near by you can get half and half for $0.99/qt, definitly the way to go for the best milkshakes and hot chocolate. Do you think the Hamilton Beach mixer is worth the counter space? Is it good for anything other than shakes? Can it make salad dressings or mayo or anything? I'm not thrilled with the shakes my blender produces but I'm figuring I'll replace the blender with a waring or vitamix or something though I've got no idea what their milkshake making abilities are.

Thanks again for the great class, I think I need to make a hotdog for a midnight snack.

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What strikes me about all the methods described in your presentation, Holly, is that they are all 1) extremely straightforward and easily executable by a novice cook, 2) virtually guaranteed to produce delicious food, and 3) rather economical even when made with best-of-kind ingredients (what does a Usinger's hot dog cost even if you mail-order it? A dollar?).

So, if all that is true, why is it that the food you describe is virtually extinct from the American restaurant landscape? You can't get it at any of the big chains. You can't get it at most diners. You can barely get it in people's houses. What's up with that?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Whenever I make hamburgers they always fall apart, so I wind up adding eggs, breadcrumbs, etc. to help keep them together.

Holly, would you please elaborate on the proper diner technique for getting the hamburgers to stay in one piece? Is it in the shape, the size, how the patty is formed or cooked?

Thanks for a mouth-watering lesson!

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Stone:

I think that the best onion rings are batter fried. And I tend to avoid those places who use cornmeal in their breading. Too harsh on the tongue.

At one point I was going to offer both versions. But turned out I had chugged all the beer intended for the beer batter. Beyond which the lesson was getting long. So I chose the rings we did at Sip and Sup Drive-In. I know them well. Used to peel, slice and bread at least on fifty pound bag of onions a day. Drive-In wise I think breaded are more the norm than batter dipped.

Jason:

Holly, given your predilection for this kind of food, do you have any preference on anti-diahhreal and other upset stomach medications, such as Imodium, Mylanta and Pepto-Bismol?

Also, what's your opinion on the use of Shout versus traditional, as well as non tradiitonal methods for grease stain removal?

It's been my experience that the occasional removal of a small piece of one's intestine does the trick. Beyond that it's not like I eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast I tend towards scrapple and eggs or biscuits and gravy.

As a grease stained shirt has become my logo I have no need for such products.

Meklor:

I've found for french fries that if you toss the once-fried potatoes in salt and whatever other seasonings your using before the 2nd fry they come out more evenly seasoned. You can also make a lower fat version by blanching the potatoes in boiling water rather than oil for the first cooking.

Back at Hamburger University it was drummed into us that salt and shortening are arch enemies. We were told to be very careful when salting the cooked fries not to let the salt fall into the shortening. It breaks down the oil, shortening its cooking life. For that reason I'm against salting or seasoning between cooking steps.

Do you think the Hamilton Beach mixer is worth the counter space? Is it good for anything other than shakes? Can it make salad dressings or mayo or anything? I'm not thrilled with the shakes my blender produces but I'm figuring I'll replace the blender with a waring or vitamix or something though I've got no idea what their milkshake making abilities are.

I've heard of places using them for batters. And bars sometimes use them for blenders. And science labs like them for scientific stuff. But I just use mine for shakes and malts. The goal is to mix the ingredients as quickly as possible, keeping them cold, and doing so without generating heat in the blending process. My non-sceintific theory is that the Hamilton Beach blender's approach to mixing is more efficient for a shake than other blenders where the blades sit at the bottom of the mixer.

Fat Guy:

what does a Usinger's hot dog cost even if you mail-order it? A dollar?).

Usinger's all beef franks run in the area of $4 a pound, the Angus franks about the same. The killer is the air freight. But buy some of their other products, and the fresh brats are a must, and the air freight dollars are spread out more.

why is it that the food you describe is virtually extinct from the American restaurant landscape? You can't get it at any of the big chains. You can't get it at most diners. You can barely get it in people's houses. What's up with that?

Chain-wise it's the combination of minimizing labor costs, dealing with unskilled help, speeding production and achieving a consistent products from coast to coast, continent to continent. Diner-wise it's laziness and all of the above. There is no reason for a diner or any other place at that cuisine level or higher, not to prepare these products from scratch. Home wise, there is no excuse for burgers or hot dogs. Fries and onion rings are a problem in what to do with the shortening. If you fry every day it's not that much of an issue. But if it's a weekly or monthly event, you'll be tossing out a lot of good shortening.

But I put most of it on the silent majority of fast food and restaurant customers. They wolf down what's put before them. They choose the chains over the dying out independents. The parents only expose their kids to pre-chewed onion rings and well done factory stamped out, precooked and zapped burgers and, in doing so, set the expectations lower and lower for each following generation.

I'm hoping that all this has paved the way for new places to open up serving drive-in fare the way Richie, Ralphie and the Fonze knew it and it will be so much better that they will flourish, educate and raise expectations.

alacarte:

Whenever I make hamburgers they always fall apart, so I wind up adding eggs, breadcrumbs, etc. to help keep them together.

Holly, would you please elaborate on the proper diner technique for getting the hamburgers to stay in one piece? Is it in the shape, the size, how the patty is formed or cooked?

I've never had this problem and I shudder at the thought of adding binders as you describe. My only guess is that either you're using too lean a beef mixture that won't bind together naturally or that you're going too loose on forming the patties. Size could be a factor if you're cooking half pound or larger patties. Shape should not be an issue. I've even experimented with hot dog shaped bun shaped burgers. Perhaps you're cooking at too low a temperature. I like to sear first and then lower the heat if necessary.

Fat Guy:

(Are you using kosher beef? If so tell Holly; it might help him answer the question.)

Or might not. My waspish recollection of Kosher laws is that only the front half of the steer is used (or maybe only certain cuts from the front) and that it must be soaked and salted. I can see how the soaking and salting might remove the natural binding properties of ground beef. Just a guess. Maybe someone less Protestant has better insight.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Loved the class Holly, I have to make some burgers now (haven't had any homemade ones in a couple of months).

A question about the fries: Is the chilling step necessary between the fryings?? Why not leave them at room temp (that's what I do)??

Thanks

FM


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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"4 Idaho potatoes"

By this you mean those big-ass brown Idaho russet baking potatoes?

Is there any other kind of potato that works as well or better?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Finally, an eCGI for someone like me. Simple food for a simpleton (no, wait, that didn't come out right). Great job Holly, I'm salivating already. I do, however, take exception with buttering the hamburger and hot dog buns though. Don't know why, I've just never cared for that. To each his own, I'm not trying to convert anyone.

I haven't had lunch yet and you've made me very hungry. To me making really good fries is the tricky thing. There was a place called the Beef Corral on Route 1 in Newburyport that made fries so tasty, it didn't matter that their roast beef sandwiches were mediocre. All right, I have to go eat.

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Buttering those buns isn't a New York thing. And when I first had burgers and franks outside of New York I remember being shocked and repulsed by that (as well as by mustard on burgers). But over time I've come to agree that butter makes these items better. How could it not? It makes everything better.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Foodman:

A question about the fries: Is the chilling step necessary between the fryings?? Why not leave them at room temp (that's what I do)??

Chilling is not necessary. Back when McD was using fresh cut fries they never chilled them between fryings. It's the way I've been shown by a couple of people and the way I've always done it. Perhaps it has to do with the shock of chilled potato hitting the hot shortening. The counter to that is the chilled potatoes bring down the heat quicker, lengthening the shortening's recovery process. Next batch I will try without chilling the potatoes.

FatGuy

"4 Idaho potatoes"

By this you mean those big-ass brown Idaho russet baking potatoes?

Is there any other kind of potato that works as well or better?

Yes, Idaho or other russets, though I've always used Idaho's. Like I say in the class, a lot of people use Yukon Gold's. In fact I've heard it said that Yukon Gold's are closer to the Betije - a European variety of potato favored by Belgium Frite shops. Any other baking style as opposed to boiling style potato should work ok.

The reason I prefer Idaho is that they are typically longer than golds. I like long fries. McD drummed that into me. Alas my home style cutter isn't long enough to hold the long Idahos so I end up cutting them down.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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abbeynormal

I do, however, take exception with buttering the hamburger and hot dog buns though. Don't know why, I've just never cared for that. To each his own, I'm not trying to convert anyone.

Fat Guy

Buttering those buns isn't a New York thing. And when I first had burgers and franks outside of New York I remember being shocked and repulsed by that (as well as by mustard on burgers). But over time I've come to agree that butter makes these items better. How could it not? It makes everything better.

The buttering is best done prior to caramelizing. And it is best done when the buns are surface grilled as opposed to dry or radiant toasted. Caramelizing refers to the heat from the grill turning the sugar in the buns a golden brown.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Foodman:
A question about the fries: Is the chilling step necessary between the fryings?? Why not leave them at room temp (that's what I do)??

Chilling is not necessary. Back when McD was using fresh cut fries they never chilled them between fryings. It's the way I've been shown by a couple of people and the way I've always done it. Perhaps it has to do with the shock of chilled potato hitting the hot shortening. The counter to that is the chilled potatoes bring down the heat quicker, lengthening the shortening's recovery process. Next batch I will try without chilling the potatoes.

I think it's all about browning:

Chilling will dehydrate the surface of the potato. Less moisture means less steam, which means the surface can get hotter than 212 F more quickly.

The cold fry dunked in the hot oil might (I'm not certain of this) evaporate any remaining surface moisture more quickly than if it was warm.

Chilling converts some of the starch to sugar, though not a lot. The fries will brown a bit better if this step is included. How much conversion takes place will depend on how long you leave them in the fridge.


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Holly, can you comment on which oils you prefer for making fries? What about shortening, which I've found works best for frying chicken (other than lard, of course!).


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Varmint

Holly, can you comment on which oils you prefer for making fries? What about shortening, which I've found works best for frying chicken (other than lard, of course!).

I use the terms oil and shortening interchangably for deep fat frying. Doesn't mean I'm correct. May be that shortening has to be solid. In my Hamburger University days, one of the opening classes was on McSpeak - my term. No rags at a McDonalds, only towels. No specials, just grills. And no grease, just shortening.

The Belgian Frite shops and probably many other locals used to fry exclusively in lard. McDonalds used a product that was 25% lard. Nowadays just about everyone cooks in vegetable oil of one kind or another. Usually peanut or canola oil. Canola has gotten a lot of good PR re fats, so is probably most popular. Peanut oil is relatively expensively but may produce a better fry.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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The buttering is best done prior to caramelizing.  And it is best done when the buns are surface grilled as opposed to dry or radiant toasted.  Caramelizing refers to the heat from the grill turning the sugar in the buns a golden brown.

For hot dogs, this is what I used to do at the snackshop:

When the dog is done, roll it to the cool side of the grill & "tent" it with its bun. That way, you toast the top edge of the bun in lovely grill grease, keep the dog nice and hot, and get a nice strip of dark brown down the middle of it. I would leave it there for 3 or 4 minutes while I finished the rest of the order.

I still do that at home with a skillet -- I just turn down the heat to low, put the buns on, and finish my sides. I love the crispy edges the bun gets and it's a little less drastic than frying the entire thing in butter (but that's good too, especially with bagels).


Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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Whenever I make hamburgers they always fall apart, so I wind up adding eggs, breadcrumbs, etc. to help keep them together.

I think the percentage of fat in the meat influences the final texture of the burger. My dad believed the fat in the meat was the binder. Plus he liked to blend his meat, mixing different fat contents. Too lean and it'll fall to pieces. Too fatty and it'll shrink to the size of a golf ball after cooking.

My mom, though, always used egg as a binder. And her "secret" ingredient in the meat mixture was A1 Steak Sauce. Ironically, there's a popular burger joint in the town where I live that makes burgers that taste EXACTLY like my mom's burgers, so I know they use the A1 secret, as well. I'm on to them. :wink:


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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I'm a big fan of marinating the meat before its ground. You can get the steak sauce flavor or whatever else your looking for in there without all the goopy-wetness that you get from adding A1 or something else in with the meat mixture.

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Foodman:
A question about the fries: Is the chilling step necessary between the fryings?? Why not leave them at room temp (that's what I do)??

Chilling is not necessary. Back when McD was using fresh cut fries they never chilled them between fryings. It's the way I've been shown by a couple of people and the way I've always done it. Perhaps it has to do with the shock of chilled potato hitting the hot shortening. The counter to that is the chilled potatoes bring down the heat quicker, lengthening the shortening's recovery process. Next batch I will try without chilling the potatoes.

I think it's all about browning:

Chilling will dehydrate the surface of the potato. Less moisture means less steam, which means the surface can get hotter than 212 F more quickly.

The cold fry dunked in the hot oil might (I'm not certain of this) evaporate any remaining surface moisture more quickly than if it was warm.

Chilling converts some of the starch to sugar, though not a lot. The fries will brown a bit better if this step is included. How much conversion takes place will depend on how long you leave them in the fridge.

Nice job Holly!

I think Dave's on to something here.

Lately I've been freezing large batches of fries after the first frying. With a quick room-temp defrosting to dust off any ice crystals, they brown-up much quicker than the ones I've done without the refrigeration step. And they taste great--crispy outside, fluffy inside.

PJ


"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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I'd still bring the chips (OOPS! Fries) to room temperature, as Holly has said the fry recovery rate is always an issue. I like chips, so I bought a Lincat commercial (counter top) fryer, it holds 4 litres of oil and that helps with the recovery rate. Actually I have a suspicion that's the only reason it makes good chips, although it's wattage is greater than the domestic fryers I've seen.

Question. Is it necessary to drain the fries after the first fry? On kitchen paper I mean. I just drain them in the fry basket then freeze them still coated in oil.

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(Are you using kosher beef? If so tell Holly; it might help him answer the question.)

Yes, I am. But I also tend to use lean ground beef -- judging by Holly's instructions, perhaps I should go for a fattier choice for future burgs.

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I'd still bring the chips (OOPS! Fries) to room temperature, as Holly has said the fry recovery rate is always an issue. I like chips, so I bought a Lincat commercial (counter top)  fryer, it holds 4 litres of oil and that helps with the recovery rate. Actually I have a suspicion that's the only reason it makes good chips, although it's wattage is greater than the domestic fryers I've seen.

Question. Is it necessary to drain the fries after the first fry? On kitchen paper I mean. I just drain them in the fry basket then freeze them still coated in oil.

Probably isn't necessary on the paper towels. I was doing it because I was using a pasta cooker with perforated holes as opposed to a fry basket.

I'm not sure whether cooling or refrigerating them with a coating of oil helps the process. In theory the oil would seal the fries defeating Dave the Cook's suggestion that the refrigeration or freezing dehydrates the fry surface making it crisp better.

Maybe the process is different with British chips.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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