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Apr 12, 2013 07:47 AM

French Fries, Serious Discussion

Starting a new thread in the hope that this will not deteriorate into a Star Trek discussion. Seems the Mods have chosen to allow the other thread to have that non-food discussion, unexplicably.

Checking the McD's ingredient list, here is their list for their French Fries:

Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

Lovely stuff, wheat, milk, TBHQ, and that long one at the end. Delicious.

So what we are saying is that taste is important, the heck with the ingredients?

French fries should have ONE ingredient: POTATOES. Fresh cut pretty much guarantees that!

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  1. Three ingredients: Potatoes, peanut oil, and salt.

    14 Replies
    1. re: MGZ

      What MGZ recommends with maybe the addition of a little cracked black pepper.

      1. re: Fowler

        I think of black pepper as a "to be added" condiment. To me, it goes in the category of ketchup, malt vinegar, or mayo/tartar. Also, I should note that I sorta think of beer like a condiment for good fries . . . or, is that a compliment?

        To the OP. I'm with you. I can choke down frozen fries from a place if that's all they got (and I have beer), but my "learnin'" over the years has made me a bit snobbish about the real thing. As I explained on the other thread, they are quite labor intensive, so I understand the reason they are not ubiquitous in restaurants, but that don't make 'em any less better (kinda like shuckin' your own clams or oysters to fry).

        1. re: MGZ

          MGZ, I am sure you are right, but for better or worse I am more old school and usually add some black pepper (as well as salt) to most savory food I cook. I do not consider black pepper the same as the condiments such as ketchup, malt vinegar, mayo based sauces, etc. that you mentioned.

          Regardless, I like your idea of just keeping it as simple as possible...potatoes, peanut oil and salt.

          1. re: MGZ

            But wait! All those preservatives and stuff in ketchup. Yuck! It's gotta be homemade ketchup or nothing. Right, Lemarais?

            1. re: E Eto

              Ketchup? Ugh! Nothing touches my fresh-cut fries but artisanal locavore curated cruelty-free CATSUP. To do otherwise is to bring discredit to your clan and make you lose face before the emperor.

              1. re: E Eto

                Here's Heinz in Europe:

                Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Spice & Herb Extracts (contains Celery), Spice

                And you can also get a Reduced Sugar and Salt in Europe.

                Myself - Vinegar is best - but wanted to make clear all ketchup doesn't have GUNK.

                1. re: jounipesonen

                  Uhh...I don't see TOMATOES in that ingredient list....

                  1. re: PotatoHouse

                    Sorry - blame my cut and paste move:

                    Tomatoes (144g per 100g Ketchup), Spirit Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Spice & Herb Extracts (contains Celery), Spice

                    One good 'contents' part of European labels is they often give the concentration - fruit in jam, meat in sausage, etc.

                    US label only says tomato concentrate - and a bunch of fructose.

                    1. re: jounipesonen

                      ok, I thought maybe your ketchup was vinegar based rather than tomato based. had me confused. LOL

          2. re: MGZ

            What about duck fat? Or beef tallow? Or good old pure lard? The ingredients are just a third of the battle. Without the right equipment and the right technique, all those fresh cut potatoes are doomed. And I'm saying this as someone who has a cast iron deep fryer, mesh dipper, and candy thermometer. That first batch is always off, but the second and third are perfect. After that, the oil tends to lose its resiliancy, and it has to be replaced. It's a labor and resource intensive operation, so I won't begrudge any restaurant that wants to take a shortcut. I'd rather have an excellently prepared frozen fry than a sloppy fresh-cut fry. Unfortunately, the latter continues to be what I end up with.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              I ain't begrudgin' nobody nothin'. All I've been saying all along is give me a batch of well made, fresh cut fries with my beer as opposed to frozen ones. I much prefer the former.

              And, as I noted below, the first batch is never the best one.

              1. re: MGZ

                A friend who has a pizzeria always adds some old oil to the new when he changes the oil. He said the flavor just isn't there if he doesn't.

                1. re: Tom34

                  That's what makes Chinese carryout fries unique: they take on the flavor of the wontons, spring rolls, and eggrolls that were fried in the same oil.

            2. re: MGZ

              "Three ingredients: Potatoes, peanut oil,"

              That's always been my "frielosophy" until a few weeks ago when I was served a side-order of "frittes" that were a tad on the pale side but had been tossed with a pinch or two of super-finely sliced leeks. I still like my simple version, but these were some good!

            3. They're applying a flavoring agent to julienned potatoes in trace amounts. You're making it sound like there's some laboratory fabricating frenc-fry shaped wheat/milk/chemical sticks:


              1 Reply
              1. re: ferret

                Well, who wants to let facts get in the way of a good jeremiad.

              2. I would rather eat arsenic that tasted like McDonalds fries than fries borne of fresh cut potatoes that tasted like arsenic.

                7 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  "Here is your fork, Mr. Morton . . . ."

                  1. re: MGZ

                    P'shaw. Fries aren't enjoyed with utensils.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      To some that may assertion may be a fallacy. But, I spose I could understand the dilemma.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        If they have those little wooden forks available, like at Nathan's, then I can't resist. I might even stick my pinkie out while I pop a fry in my mouth.

                        1. re: coll

                          Ah, see, now your talkin' crinkle cut and that I do not have the knife skills to do. I guess what I asserted below has been disproved. No fry master I know can do a crinkle cut on a fresh tater.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            Yes I have to admit, crinkle cuts have won my heart. They're more than just a fry to me.

                      2. re: ipsedixit

                        After about 1/2 the FF are gone, I kind of enjoy picking up the McDonald's FF container and tilting it into my mouth and letting them fall in. :)

                  2. "Fresh cut" guarantees that they're cut fresh. It doesn't guarantee that someone would add a spice blend.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ferret

                      Or know how to fry them so they don't end up like greasy strands of burnt potato.

                      1. re: ferret

                        Cut fresh where? At a factory? In recent years, I've had more than one place (typically bars/ taverns) claim to serve "fresh" cut that were obviously processed somewhere before hitting the restaurant (likely a refrigerated vs. frozen product).

                        1. re: Clams047

                          The same way restaurants claim that they cook their food from "scratch" when they should truthfully say that they've assembled it instead.

                      2. Eating french fries once in a while is not a problem; but eating them every day, being from McDo or French Laundry (if they do have it ?) make it bad.

                        If you do not like McDo or any other chain french fries, then do not eat there.

                        At least they are honest enough to list their ingredients and hope you/me/us are intelligent enough to make the right decision at the right time.

                        Incidentally, I grabbed a large french fries yesterday before going to a movie, first time in a long while ,and they always taste great for what they are; so they ingredients and the preparation process work to keep the quality the same.

                        End of the discussion.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Maximilien

                          It's not a matter of being honest, they disclose for people with allergies. Lemarais is the one making it sound ominous.

                          1. re: Maximilien

                            "and hope you/me/us are intelligent enough to make the right decision at the right time."

                            You're kidding - right? I know of NO company that hopes ANY customer is intelligent!