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Fry Me a River

What makes a great french fry? Who makes a great fry? I got in a very heated debate last night with other fry hounds and we couldn't come to clear set of standards. Some liked then thin, others thick. Skin on or skin off? Condiuments used. Is ketchup heaven or heresy? Malt vinegar or mayonnaise? Salt and pepper. I hate pepper on fries, but most others love it. I would love to hear your thoughts....And by the way, I like my fries thick cut and short (almost like potato bombs), skin on, lightly salted and for me...ketchup. But the ketchup must be in a pool, not on the fries so I can dip. As well, I squirt a little Rooster sauce on top for a jolt of heat.Horseradish sauce with a touchof dijon mustard is a fun change and truffled mayo is over the top.

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  1. I like mine crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Mayo and ketchup are favorite condiments, but truffled mayo certainly kicks it up a notch. Oh, and when I have fries with Greek food, I just add some salt, oregano, and a squeeze of lemon --- poli orea.

    2 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Try them with tzatziki, you'll be glad you did.

      1. re: mrbozo

        Oh, I have, trust me. I'll dip 'em in tarama or skordaliá anytime, too. Fries work with a lot of stuff.

    2. Fairly thick cut.
      Crispy on the outside and nice and fluffy inside.
      moderate amount of salt and a bit of pepper.
      Ketchup is my condiment of choice. I do love me some good poutine though.


      1. Regular cut...with/wo skin....crispy out...done inside..Dash of salt..pepper optional....No Sauce of any kind....I like the taste of potato....

        1. Medium cut. Classic poutine (chicken gravy and fresh cheddar cheese curds).

          BTW, isn't "Fry Me a LIver" the correct song title?

          1. Medium cut, skin on and slightly limp. I want to taste potatoes! I occasionally dip into a bit of ketchup, but like them best next to a chicken fried steak so I can eat them with the cream gravy!

            I thought the song was "Cry me a River."

            1. Double frying is the key to great french fries - fry them until they're almost done, remove from the oil and let cool a bit, then back into the hot oil to crisp up the outside. Serve with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a light dusting of finely chopped fresh rosemary and they're heaven! (Which is a weird thing for me to say, because I normally hate rosemary, it tastes like turpentine to me, except on this one dish).

              1. One of the benefits of Maine being nearly surrounded by Quebec is the food overflow. Poutine are double fried pomme frittes that are covered w/ cheese and gravy. An acquired taste for some, revulsion for other fry freaks, it was love at first taste for me. Check out both the Poutaine Bourguignonne and Saint Perpetue on line at www.montrealpoutine.com.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Not that I don't enjoy a good poutine, but I still love frites from the roadside stands in Quebec. They are limp, not crispy, and kinda greasy, but you can actually taste them, as opposed to say, McD's fries, where all I can taste is salt. (And don't get me started on those awful BK coated fries - thank god they offer baked potatoes now, which even they can't screw up.)

                2. Sweet potatoes, now that makes a good fry. Oh, they are so yummy. Blanc Burger and Bottles in Kansas City makes some really great ones, sweet with just the right amount of salty and medium cut so they still have some crispy. They serve them with a homemade mustard, homemade ketchup and homemade chipotle aioli.

                  Frankie Valli said, "Big Girls Don't Fry" (or do they)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: amy_rc

                    Oh yes, and duck fat fries are superior. Try Duck Fat restaurant in Portland or make 'em yourself.

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      Duck fat works great.

                      My home town of Montreal is fry heaven: any and every style is given its proper due. My current favourite is Frite Alors ! http://www.fritealors.com/site_flash/... where I can chow down on a bavette de cheval with beef tallow double-fried frites and wash it down with an excellent locally brewed Belgian-style beer.

                      If neither duck fat or beef tallow are available peanut oil isn't a bad option.

                    2. I am in the minority, but I prefer good crispy seasoned fries to all others. My second choice is sweet potato fries baked, skin on, crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, S&P. No condiment necessary for either though aioli or ketchup is welcome for a change. More traditional fries I like crispy on the outside, no skin, S&P, w/mayo or aioli being first choice condiment wise, ketchup second.

                      1. Anything that isn't a steak fry or a sweet potato fry. I want all crispy outside and no potato inside. I hate fat fries that taste like someone plopped a baked potato into the fryer.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ESNY

                          "I hate fat fries that taste like someone plopped a baked potato into the fryer."

                          Ditto. I like my fries on the skinny side, not much inside. Very crispy, of course. I do enjoy sweet potato fries, though.

                          Isn't anyone else going to sing the praises of malt vinegar? I've been hooked on this stuff since my first County Fair back in, well, many years ago! My fries need lots of salt and a good slathering of this heavenly stuff. Oh, and no pepper on my fries. I have no idea why - I'm a black pepper freak with most foods.

                        2. It's definitely "Fryin' Time".

                          As mentioned blanching is key to good colour, minimal oil absorption, and a crisp exterior and soft interior. Of course starting with your oil up to temp is crucial. And using the right kind of tater ...

                            1. Clover Grill in New Orleans has t-shirts that read, "we love to fry and it shows"

                              I made a new years resolution only to eat hot fries, this is a resolution - for the first time, I could keep. My friends laugh at me when I send my fries back. It is serious business!

                              I like french fries in a brown paper bag with salt and pepper, shake the bag and fold the bag down, then dip in ketchup and marie sharp's hot sauce!

                              In my family we always have french fries with pizza too!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: waitress

                                If they aren't hot and fresh then they are worthless. We send back fries, especially when we specifically ask for fresh and they pass off old ones to us.

                                1. re: danhole

                                  I send them back too - even at fast food places. I eat them very seldom, so when I do I want them good! I like them almost any way -thin & crispy, fat & fluffy, love sweet potato fries. I like the skin. Mayo with them all, sometimes vinegar, gravy or mustard. Never ketchup - I probably have one of the few homes in the US where it can't be found. Well, I will buy some if I'm hosting a burger/hot dog sort of thing, but then it goes home with one of the guests.

                                  So far I am not a fan of seasoned fries. Perhaps there are some good ones out there, but the ones I've had either just detract from the potato goodness or the seasoning combos are not well balanced. The best thing about seasoned fries is it makes it easy for me to say no & save the calories for something better!

                              2. I put in the wrong photo with my last response!

                                1 Reply
                                1. Not overly crisp (they start to taste burned some places...), and definitely not those “seasoned fries”. I like to be able to taste the potato.

                                  And by the way... “I Saw You Frying in the Chapel”

                                  Uncle Ira

                                  1. Toil, toil, fry and bubble. I like mine in a catsup puddle!

                                    Sometimes I like those on the bottom that get soggy with catsup, if I'm doing fast food.
                                    Otherwise I like to have condiment on the side.
                                    I want mine medium-sized so they are crisp on the exterior and like a baked potato on the inside; kinda like a twice-cooked potato?
                                    Thin is yucky. They get cold too fast and there is no melt in your mouth part.
                                    I like Dijon almost as much as catsup with hot sauce mixed in.

                                    No one for batterd fries? I've had some good ones.
                                    There's nothing wrong with baked potato fingers. I don't fry much.

                                    1. I like Steak Fries seasoned with Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning right out of the deep fryer, or potato wedges, skin on dipped in buffalo wing sauce, if not that then dipped in garlic/beef au jus.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Jimbosox04

                                        That Tony C's is fantastic on corn on the cobb as well Jim.


                                      2. I have to say that I'm shocked that some people say they like limp fries. Ick.

                                        When I eat fries, I want them so hot I can barely touch them, and they should have a crisp, outer shell with a fluffy interior. They should be lightly salted. Ideally, they will be made with a thick-skinned potato, such as a russet, weighing at least 7 oz, washed, and cut (skin on) about 1 cm (1/3 inch) thick.

                                        As for condiments, um.... Anything? I love malt vinegar and salt, but it makes the fries soggy, so they have to be eaten quickly. My local fish and chips place has a "spicy spot prawn aoli" that I love. Ahh, poutine.... Not big only chili on fries, though.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: miss_bennet

                                          I believe a lot of taste preferences are decided when we are children, and so for me I like fries almost too hot to eat with just some salt and vinegar. This, I now realize, is based on an experience when I was perhaps 5 years old. We had a summer shack (literally) near the seacoast and down at the fishing wharf was a fry truck selling fish and chips. When my parents took me down there they would sometimes buy me a treat of some french fries. They came in a paper cone, long shoestring fries, hot from the fryer, liberally salted and I presume my folks put a dash of vinegar on them. I can still smell them, and can still feel the taste and sensations in my mouth when I tried to eat those.

                                          1. re: miss_bennet

                                            I forgot chili on fries! That's Good too.
                                            Miss B, they need to make a personal fryer that will pop fries out, as you need them! But seriously, how can you not like soggy? They always get that way if they have any heft to them and/or are immersed in anything; like the ones on the bottom, where you've dumped stuff over the whole container of fries (as in fast food). You don't pass on those messy, slimy ones do you?

                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              I love fries because they are crispy. I love the crispy texture. Texture is more important than the taste of fires to me. Otherwise, I don't want to calories.

                                          2. I am not as picky as to the cut, but they have to be double fried, and I prefer them a bit darker than normal. Skin on is also preferred, but they can also be fantastic if peeled. I tend to top them with malt vinegar and a lot of fine salt.

                                            Poutine is a rare guilty pleasure, but brown gravy is over the top, IMVHO.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Kelli2006

                                              I agree, Kelli. Love my fries extra long, extra hot, and with some brown gravy on the side for dipping. Diner style all the way. Prefer skin off and crispy with fluffy interior. Holds up well to the gravy.

                                              Sometimes I'll do vinegar, though, especially if I'm on the boardwalk. That just says 'summertime' to me.

                                            2. oh i do love me some fries....i prefer mine on the thicker side, somewhat crispy (but not too crisp )on the outside, but with that wonderful creamy middle. The potatoes that have almost a creamy sweetness to them, even better. I do not like fluffy frozen french fries, but hey, i've eaten them in a pinch. I like fries heavy and dense.

                                              I like mine with vinegar, salt, and repeat. Rarely with ketchup. Sometimes oddly with tartar sauce or mayo. A nearby Irish pub serves a sweet potato fry, and offers a guinness mayo...and the combo is oooohh good.

                                              If i'm going to do gravy, i'm having like we have it back home, fries, dressing (bread crumbs, onion, savory) and gravy

                                              I admit to liking seasoned fries....particularly the semi-battered "wedge fries".

                                              1. For me french fries should be nearly brown, and crunchy on the ends and edges, on the outside and soft in the center, this happens with the two (or maybe even add a stage) stage frying process that the Belgians use. I like fries that are maybe 1/3 inch think, skin off, I'm happy with ketchup or any sort of (flavoured) mayo or vinegar. Never pepper but salt is essential. One thing I've learned recently is that microwaving can pretty adequately revive yesterday's fries, previously I'd re-fried them.

                                                1. Double frying is nothing more than convenience food for the restaurant cook or chef.
                                                  Good fries are only available when potatoes have been kept over winter, and have a slight sweetness. You can get them now, as long as they haven't been treated so no eyes will form.
                                                  The rest is all window dressing.

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: jayt90

                                                    Au contraire, mon ami! We're not talking about fast food fries that are frozen partially cooked and then fried to finish. Double frying is a true connoisseur's approach, and recommended by nearly every chef you can find (don't take my word for it, google french fry recipes and you'll find that virtually all of them involve double frying).

                                                    The key is that the first frying is at a lower temperature, around 320° - 325°, and the second in hotter oil, at 375°. That's what ensures both a tender center and a crisp exterior. With a single fry at a single temperature you're much more likely to get disappointing results.

                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                      I saw Emeril make his fries that way. I haven't tried it yet because I am trying to get fried foods out of our diet, but here is a link to his method:


                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                        I agree, it is a classic techique. But I have thought that somebody, in Belgium centuries ago, must have discovered the secret of double frying accidentally, "just let me reheat some of these...." et voila!

                                                        1. re: steinpilz

                                                          Actually there is a (possibly apocryphal) story about Louis XIV's chef doing exactly that in France back in the 17th century. According to this story (which appears in my '70s edition of Joy of Cooking), he had fried potatoes for dinner but the king's party was held up and when they finally showed up hours late he just threw them back in the hot oil and voila! Not only did they come out delicious, many of them had puffed up to a sort of football shape as well - thus the legendary origin of french fries' classier cousin, Souffle Potatoes.

                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                            I actually tried making Souffle Potatoes once, with potato slices, and got about half of them to puff. I felt like I was tinkering away at a hobby bench, or laboratory bench, or something.

                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              We had these in Madrid on our honeymoon at a restaurant named, not surprisingly, "Souffle". We ordered three plates!

                                                              I've tried making them at home, but never with any success.

                                                          2. re: BobB

                                                            I fry one large potato at a time, to completion at 350F in 2" of oil, by the Robuchon method, and it works nicely, and is very simple.

                                                            If I did a double fry, some oil would sink into the center as the first fry cools down. To me large that is unnecessary, unless for convenience, as in a restaurant.

                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                              Actually it doesn't, there's enough of a surface seal from the first frying that the oil doesn't penetrate. I'm not saying the single-fry approach doesn't work, obviously it works well for you, just that double frying is the more widely accepted method. It has nothing to do with convenience - I agree, your method is simpler - and everything to do with taste.

                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                Another advantage to the double frying method is that the fries continue to cook after you pull them out. Thsi creates a "crust." So, the spend less time in the oil. Which brings me to a disadvantage of single-frying. Some potatoes have high sugar levels, which can cause the outside to burn before the inside has cooked. Allowing the fries to rest between stages lessens the overall cook time, and can combat this problem.

                                                                I don't thnk any more oil is going into the fry when it is double-cooked than single. And it produces the crispy exterior and fluffy interior as no other method can.

                                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                                  I was pleasantly surprised by the Robuchon method. Not only were the fries nicely golden brown and crisp but there was no splatter mess to clean up and less attention needed until they are near completion. I don't make fries a lot but when I do this is a winner.

                                                            2. Not too thick, not too thin. Skin off. HOT and crisp. I like ketchup (must be Heinz- I've been known to take packets of Heinz into very casual places that use generic ketchup). Pepper is also a must. If you like pepper and ketchup on your fries, put the pepper ON the ketchup. The pepper ends up on the fries when you dip them in ketchup, thus in your mouth, versus on the bottom of the plate. (Going against my general fry requirements, Bojangles can be excellent when they are fresh and seasoned well.)

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Sarahgraci

                                                                I thought I was the only one who put pepper on the ketchup. Usually, people look at me like I'm crazy.

                                                                1. re: joth68

                                                                  you are not alone. usually a dash or 2 of hot sauce too. :)

                                                                  1. re: joth68

                                                                    Oh, no; you're not alone. Since my father showed me this trick when I was 5, I cannot eat ketchup without pepper mixed in. Not on top, but mixed all in with a fry. And once I discovered the pepper grinder, it's been taken to a whole new level.

                                                                2. God has blessed me to be fairly tolerant in the fries department. There is, however, a special place in Hell for the person(s) who invented frozen oven baked "French fries(the French would gag.) and those who eat them. God, I love potatoes in almost any form, glad ours are in the ground and growing for the first batch of boiled new potatoes w/ butter and dill! French fried French fingerlings too (That the French would love.). At the open markets in Bolivia one could buy scores of different type spuds that we don't have here.

                                                                  1. I caught a bit of Paula Deen making her favorite fries the other night - steak cut, fried once for 2 minutes, then dipped in egg and a flour/milk mix, then fried a second time til cooked. She served w/ a number of mayo based dipping sauces. Anyone else use her method or tried it?

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                      I've had "dipped" fries often in restaurants and, generally being a purist, don't like that style. I guess I'd say that they're "heavier."

                                                                      1. re: Emme

                                                                        I like the style but am not sure about the mayo dips. I might enjoy a remoulade...
                                                                        I like seasonings in the coating. Did those have that? Otherwise, what's the point?

                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                          it wasn't the dipping sauce that interested me, but rather the "fry batter fry" method. i just looked up her method, and i was wrong, there was no egg. after the initial 2 min fry, she dipped first in evaporated milk, then flour (mixed with S & P), then back in the frier. so, seasoning? not really, but that you could tweak. i was curious how discernable a difference from the flour. i'm wondering if it makes the exterior crispier, or if it adds a fakey tasting layer around the tater...

                                                                      2. Has anyone ever tried fries dipped in a mixture of 1/2 chinese hot mustard and 1/2 duck sauce. Maybe it is just me but they taste MMMmmm MMMMmmm Good !! I also like them dipped in chinese chili oil. Bam !! Kicking them up a notch.

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Jimbosox04

                                                                          your post triggered a memory from childhood of experimenting w/ dipping in everything on the table... vanilla ice cream, Coke, Sprite... all good...

                                                                          1. re: Emme

                                                                            Yuck! Come-on!
                                                                            I love experimenting with food combinations, myself, but I usually start by mixing things on my plate and then if that works I may create a "new" dish.
                                                                            One of my new, enjoyed condiments is wasabi with lime juice. Good with many things, including potatoes.

                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                              Try wasabi mayo w/ Frenchies or on roast beef sandwiches.
                                                                              Snorting wasabi is better than coffee in the morning!

                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                Now that's intriguing! Do you start with dry powdered wasabi and reconstitute it with the lime juice, or just mix the juice with premade wasabi paste?

                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                  "Terrapin Ridge, Wasabi Lime Mustard". Found it at a favorite fishmonger... Is good on kolbasi, pork and kapusta.
                                                                                  Water, Cider Vinegar, Green Jalapeno Peppers, Wasabi Powder, Mustard Seed, Mustard Flour, Salt, Distilled Vinegar, Horseradish Powder, Garlic, White Wine, Xanthan Gum, Lime Oil, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid, Spices, Blue #1, Oil of Mustard Terrapin Ridge products (mcness) website:

                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                    Very cool!, thanks! I love all things hot and sinus-clearing, and I've been telling myself for years that I need to experiment with various combinations of mustard, horseradish, wasabi and hot peppers to find the ultimate mixture but haven't gotten around to actually doing it. I never thought of adding lime, though. Looks like I'll have to find me some of this stuff.

                                                                                2. re: Scargod

                                                                                  I like all your fancy sauce recs, but my favorite dipping sauce for fries is still a Wendy's Chocolate Frosty.

                                                                                  1. re: amy_rc

                                                                                    Ha ha. I've done that too. Strangely satisfying!

                                                                                    1. re: amy_rc

                                                                                      It's the chocolate and salt thing. When I was in my first year at university, I would have junk food binges where I had to have something salty, something chocolate, something sweet and somethign to wash it down with. I want my metabolism back!

                                                                              2. Skin-on curly fries for maximum grease.. salted and peppered and gobbled; but since curly fries are scarce as crowing hens, skin-on medium cut, twice fried with a little tub of tartar sauce for dipping, as first choice; a puddle of catsup dotted with hot sauce (Sriracha or Tobasco pref) is my second choice. I prefer fat, short spuds to be baked in herbed olive oil.. yum!

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: fromagina

                                                                                  Now that you mention it..... since I've been in CT I don't think I have seen curly fries. They were fairly common in North Texas.
                                                                                  Too messy or difficult to eat?

                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                    Ah, Suzy-Q's. Or is that just a Quebec name for them?

                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                      The curly fries of my dreams were made from one whole medium sized potato at a burger stand in Carmel Valley over 40 years ago. The burger-meister would impale the spud on a hand-cranked thingy that left a coil of maybe 1/4" thick strand of potato.. kind of like a big coil of pasta. This got plunged in oil in a basket.. then lifted out.. then plunged in again and cooked until it managed to be both crispy and moist at the same time. I was stuffing my 21 year old face with these fries when someone shouted that president Kennedy had been shot.

                                                                                    2. re: fromagina

                                                                                      Curly fries are all over this area, but the one thing that turns me off about them is that they don't seem to retain heat well. If you don't gobble them down immediately then they are just not good. One place we go to we order the curly fries as an appetizer, and most of the other patrons do, also. If you get them with your order they will be cold.

                                                                                      Oh and s-car-god, they aren't particularly messy or difficult to eat. You just snap the little curls and dunk away!

                                                                                      1. re: danhole

                                                                                        I guess I'm not going to the "Dairy Queen" types of places in Connecticut.
                                                                                        Places I have been don't seem to offer them (and that includes Archie Moore's).
                                                                                        Messy: I think of a paper tray/boat with fries and you pour catsup liberally over them and then try and pick up strands of curly fries..
                                                                                        danhole: You almost have my moniker correct. It is "S" car go!, with a "d" added (because I lost my Chowhound identity as "Scargo", when CH was young-in it's previous life, and I couldn't retrieve that identity later. It is from the joke about "see the "S" car go!" I had an Rx-7.

                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                          Dairy Queen??? I don't think they have them, but I don't know. They are prevalent in Wing places, but jack in the box has seasoned curly fries, too. Now that you mention it I guess it is a buffalo wing type of side. And you don't douse them with ketchup, you snap and dunk!

                                                                                          S-car-go, you explained your moniker to me awhile back when I addressed you as "scar".

                                                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                                                            Oh, yea; I was doing the "you can call me Ray" shtick.
                                                                                            They don't seem to have Dairy Queens up here. I thought you were supposed to tilt your head back and try and get as much curly fry in your mouth as you could...
                                                                                            The messy part is when you are trying to drive and eat fries. When you have them positioned between your legs, 'cause your RX-7 has no cupholders or any flat spots (plus you have to shift and steer)and then you have to empty the catsup packets into the container of fries, if you are going to have catsup on them...well, it just gets messy.

                                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                                              Times like these is when a chauffeur is needed! Plus then you know the Dijon has been restocked in the glove box!

                                                                                              It is interesting seeing the evolution of our car dining reflected in the design. As a child in the '60's our dashboard & glove compartment had space designed to enhance a car-hop experience. Then (was it in the '80's?) bigger drinks were available and people started driving with coffee so the plastic drink holders that slid in the window and the oddly shaped 'no-spill' coffee mugs came into being. My current car (I drive them 'til they die) has the built in cup holders, but too small for todays mega-sized caffeine bombs!

                                                                                              Being a total klutz I always travel with an old beach towel for lap protection!

                                                                                    3. When I make fries at home, I usually boil them until just limp. I let them cool and deep fry them unitl golden. Shake with some kosher salt and eat while hot. As for condiments, there isn't much I don't like with fries. (except ketchup) I love Au jus, gravy, mayo, mustard, A-1 sauce, tarter sauce, malt vinegar, cheese (shredded and melted), and green chile (stew, not just the chile) with cheese. I haven't tried Poutine, but am convinced I would love it. As long as they're not cold, limp, and over salted, I'll eat them.