Create the Perfect Fries With the Right Deep Fryer
Transform your best fries into the perfect fries with cooking and equipment tips
The perfect fries are an iconic taste of lunch and dinner fare at American restaurants, a (not too) greasy greatness that crosses political, racial and socio-economical barriers and is found everywhere from drive-thru eateries to fine-dining establishments of the white tablecloth variety.
Golden brown and crisp on the outside.
Soft and fluffy on the inside.
Sorry PB&J, but the perfect fries are America’s favorite comfort food. Our love affair with the fried rendition of potatoes explains why French fries are arguably the most recognized, most requested side dish ordered at U.S. restaurants.
Why? It starts with taste.
“It goes without saying flavor is important,” said Mike Keyes, a Pitco rep at PMR. “After all, taste makes up a majority of the dining experience.”
“It's got to be delicious,” added Bill Brown, a regular ACityDiscount customer and owner of There, a gastropub in Brookhaven, Ga. “It's got to be crispy. It has to look appealing – a dark tan. When you bite it, it's got to have a crunch to it, crispness. And the inside should be soft like a baked potato.”
To the prep cooks, fry cook and oh-so-many restaurateurs of America: Thank you!
How do they do it? It’s all in the equipment and technique – get ready for tips below.
We’re talking about minimizing recovery time, maintaining oil temperature and taking notice of oil filtration, as well as other factors. By following simple guidelines, the best American restaurants have perfected the perfect fries, which is why the average American – from tiny tykes to seniors – eats approximately 29 lbs. of French fries annually.
Who cares if France invented the French fry – or was it Belgium – we just love them!
Crinkle-cut and wedges. Waffle fries and tater tots. Steak (thick-cut), curly, shoestring and home fries. Even sweet potato fries.
America’s favorite? Depends on whom you ask.
When prepared right, the perfect fries reward food service establishments with plenty of return customers and create an engaged social media following; all of which increases profit margins. After all, fries, whether fresh-cut or frozen, are one of the lowest-priced food costs in most commercial kitchens.
ASK AN EXPERT:
“The best fryer for French fries will have an accurate temperature sensor (+or- 2 degrees), a melt cycle and good recovery. A melt cycle gradually brings the oil up to proper temperature without scorching (adds bad taste/shortens oil life). Fries cook best at 335-350 degrees, however, when you drop (frozen) fries into oil, they are cool and drop the oil temperature. If you don’t have a fryer that has enough BTUs to get the oil temperature back up to 350 degrees quickly, you are cooking fries at a lower temperature and they will absorb much more oil, giving your fries a soggy, oily taste, while utilizing much more oil.”
– Pitco rep Mike Keyes of PMR
To fill the demand, diners and fast-food restaurants, pubs and fine-dining establishments combine the best techniques with the best equipment to save oil, electricity and man hours, while maximizing output. Just as important, these changes ensure customers return for a handful of fries. Or three. Yeah, more like five.
Remember, the goal is to transform several pounds of sliced potatoes into perfect fries in minutes; then repeat the process non-stop, if needed, during the lunch crush. After an afternoon break, do it again during the dinner run. And hopefully, create a fry following because your artistic approach makes the best fries on the block.
We’re going to tell you how.
HOW TO BUY
Want to equip your commercial kitchen with the perfect tools to create the perfect fries? The first question you must ask yourself, said Hap Schneider, general manager of ACityDiscount, is the amount of volume you expect to prepare during an allotted period.
That’s because selecting equipment is just as important as selecting potatoes.
Next question: What’s your budget?
Note: Typically, deep fryers can cook French fries at a volume approximately 50-100% above its weight. For example, a 35-lbs. deep fryer can cook approximately 52-70 lbs. of French fries per hour.
Schneider compared three Pitco deep fryers, and their fry-making strengths:
Model # SG14S - Item #33814
This model proves BTUs aren’t the only factor to consider when perfecting the perfect fries. It produces more product, while completing the task efficiently, and with a slightly smaller footprint than comparable deep fryers. Spend more upfront and save a lot more over time (man hours and oil consumption).
Other brands to consider include: Anets, Cecilware PRO, Frymaster, GMCW, Imperial Range, Vulcan, Wells, and Winston. Check out ACityDiscount’s complete list of fryers here.
WHY FRIES MATTER
To customers, the perfect fries – not just any fries – are so good, they’re often devoured before the main dish is touched, sometimes with unsolicited, even annoying assistance from fellow diners at the table. This is no regular side. Fries sell burgers and steaks.
In recent years, French fries have become main dishes, thanks to food trucks and niche eateries that load them with everything from pizza toppings to macaroni and cheese. (Don’t forget about the classic combination of chili and cheese!)
Franchises are taking notes.
In recent months, McDonald’s has experimented with Gilroy garlic fries (in California); White Castle has added seasonal loaded sweet potato fries topped with syrup, marshmallow cream and cinnamon praline pecans; Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has rolled beer cheese bacon fries with domestic ale beer cheese and bacon bits on curly fries; Wendy’s revealed Ghost Pepper fries.
ASK A CHEF:
“We cut them in-house. We soak them for about two hours - gets all the starch out. And then we triple-fry them: we blanch them twice in hot oil at a low temperature, and the third time is when we cook them.” -- Bill Brown, a regular ACityDiscount customer and owner/chef of There, a gastropub in Brookhaven, Ga.
AREN’T ALL FRYERS THE SAME?
To answer that, let’s step away from the grease. Think baked cookies… A double-deck convection oven is a great asset for baking an order of 10,000 chocolate chip cookies. But if the order is half a dozen… a counter-top convection oven is a better fit. And saves energy costs.
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
If your fry orders lag in the grease, you’ll draw the ire of customers dissatisfied with the wait and taste. Conversely, if you serve the French fries on time, and they taste amazing, but kitchen costs skyrocket because of wasted energy, that’s a problem which at the end of the year, can cost your business or franchise hundreds, if not thousands.
We’ve explained why the perfect fries are so important to America. And we showed why the perfect equipment is a prerequisite of the perfect fries. And now, here’s our list of key considerations on your potato path.
Temperature control: Oil that’s too hot can ruin the taste of your fries, while limiting the life of the oil. Too cold? Fries lose their crispness and absorb too much oil. Perfect fries solution: Increasing the life of your oil – and decreasing food costs – starts with cooking fries around 350 degrees. Also, use a thermostat or computer process controller to monitor the temperature.
BIG INVESTMENT, HUGE SAVINGS:
Pitco estimates the 10-year cost of replacing oil every three days for three 50 lbs. fryers at $130,000 (150 lbs. of oil at $25 per 35-lbs. jug). Want to cut this cost in half?Invest in Filter Drawers, doubling the days between each oil change thanks to a two-step filter process that pumps eight gallons of oil per minute.
On the right: Model # SG18S-2FD - Item #156517
“There are a lot of great, frozen products that give you great French fries… From the basic French fry and interesting coatings – whether they’re corn starch-based, flavor-based – think Checker’s fries. “If you’re going to do fresh (fries), it’s more challenging. There’s a lot of natural variety in potatoes. The case of potatoes you ordered from the same purveyor are going to differ week to week, depending on climate, storage, etc. You could get nerdy-technical on the options.”-- Bernard “Bernie” McDonough, sales rep at ACityDiscount.com, worked as chef for 27 years.Oil selection: The wrong oil adds the wrong flavor to your fries. Perfect fries solution: Select a neutral-tasting, high smoke point (above 350 degrees) option like vegetable, peanut, canola and safflower.
Recovery time: Fries can become greasy if the length of time it takes a deep fryer to return to the desired cooking temperature after fries are submerged is prolonged, or the temperature drops too far. Perfect fries solution: Don’t crowd the fryer basket with too many potatoes slices. Also, purchase a deep fryer which best fits your expected volume.
Note: Exact time and temperatures will depend on the cut of potatoes.
Drain: Don’t serve greasy fries! Perfect fries solution: After fryer baskets are removed from the oil, gently tap close to fryer as it is lifted. Also, drain on absorbent paper.
Ready. Set… Fry!
Top dishes (Q4 2016) the most frequently menu-ed fries (Source: Technomic)
1,181 French fries
725 Cheese fries
205 Chili/chili cheese fries
205 Sweet potato fries
170 Seasoned/herb fries
170 Loaded fries
Now, the tasty test: After a few minutes, are the fries still crispy? If the answer is yes, you’re a Fry Expert. This might be your best fries ever… Add a few dashes of salt and shakes of ketchup and ooooooo yeah!
The art of creating the perfect fries gets deeper – we could write a novel on the process. For now, though, we’ll save potato selection (Russet Burbank versus Classic Russet), the fresh vs. frozen debate (our ACityDiscount.com specialists are split), the right level of potato moistness, blanching, double-frying, and other aspects for a future article.
After all, it’s time to eat!
Need help selecting the right product for your perfect fries? Check out our showroom in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross or visit ACityDiscount.com to find the perfect option for your commercial kitchen. Or give us a call at 404-752-6715 and speak with our fryer sales specialists. After all, we want to transform your best fries into the perfect fries!