Fabulous French fries make customers rave and come back for more. They also offer significant markup potential as they cost mere cents per pound. However, many kitchens sadly cannot perfect this basic classic. Luckily, the trick is simple. If you want to serve warm and filling French fries that taste like magic, here are a few tips to guide you there:
1. Always Hand Slice Fresh Potatoes
Never order frozen French fries. It may seem like a labor savings, but in most cases, the cost of frozen potatoes exceeds the cost of raw potatoes plus the hourly wage of someone to cut them.
To slice potatoes by hand, you do not need a lot of fancy equipment or tools. You simply need a potato peeler, a cutting board and a chef's knife. If you don't want your head chef or sous chef to waste their time with this simple job, you can assign the task to your dishwasher, salad prepper or even a server who does occasional back-of-the-house work.
2. Use Evenly Sliced Russet Potatoes
When choosing your potatoes, look for russet potatoes. Also called Idaho or baking potatoes, these potatoes have a high starch content, and this attribute makes them crisp more effectively and cook more evenly than many other varieties of potatoes.
When slicing them, make sure the pieces are relatively uniform. Although they can be different lengths, they need to be the same thickness in order to cook evenly. If you fill your fryer with differently shaped potato pieces, you will end up with a range of perfectly cooked, burnt and undercooked fries.
3. Soak Cut Potatoes in Water
Once your potatoes are cut, store them in water until you are ready to use them. Completely submerged, cut potatoes can be stored in your refrigerator for more than a day, allowing you to cut several batches in advance. Most importantly, soaking the potatoes stalls the oxidation process – if left out in the air, the potatoes will turn black. After soaking and before cooking, rinse the potatoes to wash off extra starch, which could lead to unwanted excess browning.
4. Double Fry Your Potatoes
When you are finally ready to put the potatoes in the fryer, bring the temperature up to 325 degrees. Do not put the potatoes in the fryer until it has reached the desired heat or they will cook unevenly. After they are cooked through to the inside, remove them. Reheat the oil to 350 degrees and fry again until they are golden brown on the outside.
5. Use Clean Fry Oil
When making French fries in a commercial kitchen, you can reuse the fry oil more than once, but you need to avoid overusing it or mixing flavors that may not taste good to your customers.
For instance, while many people might rave about the taste of fries cooked in oil previously used to fry chicken, they may complain vociferously about fries cooked in fish fry oil. Similarly, using your oil for a few batches can result in a deeper flavor, but reusing the oil until it is black and full of crusty fried bits, can result in a dirty tasting french fry.
Keep on eye on your fry oil, taste fries at every stage and make notes so you know how many times you can use your fry oil without sacrificing the taste of your fries.
6. Maintain Your Deep Fryer
In addition to following the instructions listed above, you need to ensure your fryer is well maintained. If its temperature gauge is off, for instance, it can be impossible to find and maintain the right heat in your oil.
If the basket is broken or has a hole in it, fries may fall into your fry oil, making it dirty for future uses. Alternatively, old crusty bits may sneak into the basket and adulterate your current batch of fries. Replace parts as needed to avoid these hassles and pitfalls.
Click here for more info on maintaining your fryer.