The Keys to the Perfect Hand-Cut Fries

French fries have been a staple of American food for decades, and their popularity shows no signs of slowing down. However, while traditional fries are still all the rage, many operators are looking for innovative ways to upgrade this simple side dish. Hand-cut fries are one option that delivers added value and appeals to consumers. That said, making the perfect hand-cut fry requires some practice and skill, partly because they’re so good.

Evolution of French Fries: From Traditional to Hand-Cut Marvels

Although the name implies that fries originated in France, some speculate they were created in Belgium. While there may have been parallel or cross-inventing going on, it’s clear that the French fry is a distinctly European creation.

Initially, cooks created fries to make the potato more palatable. Potatoes were brought to Europe by the Spanish, but it took a while for people to realize how to cook them. Famously, Queen Elizabeth I banned potatoes from England, thanks to a mishap with the royal cook preparing the green leafy part of the plant, which isn’t digestible.

Even today, inspiration and innovation are crucial for developing new French fry dishes and sides. Operators and chefs are keen on experimenting with different toppings, sauces, and frying methods to achieve culinary greatness. However, while the add-ons can make fries tastier, how they’re prepared also matters.

Enter the hand-cut French fry.

Unveiling the Uniqueness of Hand-Cut Fries

Hand-cut fries sometimes can be hard to find on a menu and for a good reason. The steps required to prepare and cook fries by hand can sometimes be time-consuming, meaning that most operators prefer the quick and easy alternative – frozen fries.

However, when quality matters, hand-cut fries enable chefs and operators to control the cooking process more precisely. Most frozen fries have added sugars, starches, and salt. While these additives can be tasty, they’re much less healthy for the customer. Instead, a hand-cut fry provides a much simpler and organic meal experience.

Plus, while most frozen French fries use Russet potatoes, hand-cutting and preparing the fries allows operators to use alternative options like sweet or golden potatoes. By using unique ingredients, operators can leverage them to appeal to health-conscious consumers who want fries without guilt.

Quality Matters: The Impact of Potatoes and Oil on French Fry Flavor

The perfect French fry is little more than a sliced potato fried in oil. Any other ingredients can mess with the final result, so it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. So, because these two ingredients are essential for making any batch of fries, operators have to choose them wisely.

Regarding potatoes, Russets are king, but operators can choose other potato varieties for a better mixture of flavors and consistency. For example, sweet potato fries are becoming far more popular as they offer a salty and sweet combination that is impossible to get with regular Russets.

As far as the oil, chefs have a few options, including peanut, canola, and blended oil. However, more operators are choosing to use other types of fat, such as beef tallow. The type of oil matters because it infuses a specific flavor into the fry. So, depending on how the fries will be served (e.g., salted, sauced, or loaded), the oil can make or break the final dish.

Crafting Perfection: Steps to Create the Perfect Hand-Cut Fries

A big reason why most operators choose frozen fries is that they’re ready to cook out of the bag. However, those who serve hand-cut fries can streamline the process, generating more revenue without adding extra labor.

First, workers must wash the potatoes. Skinning them is a standard process, but many consumers like fries with the skin on them because it creates a better texture and mouthfeel.

Next, one must cut the potatoes. While this can be done by hand, using a fry-cutting tool is better. The results will be consistent, and the cutter will prevent cramping and sore hands.

After cutting, soak the fries for several hours to remove the excess starch. Otherwise, they’ll be a soggy mess. Many chefs choose to blanch the potatoes after soaking them, but it’s unnecessary. Workers must dry the potatoes to remove any excess moisture.

Finally, it’s time for frying. For serving better hand-cut French fries, it’s important to fry them at a lower temperature, around 325 degrees Fahrenheit, for three to four minutes, then again at a higher temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an additional three to four minutes. Doing this removes any water and ensures a crispy exterior and a soft, creamy interior.

So, while making large batches of hand-cut fries may seem daunting, they don’t have to be time-consuming with the correct tools and procedures. And they’ll make customers keep returning for more, helping increase profits.

Get all the tips and tricks on how to serve up the best French fries in town:

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Topics: Foods & Trends, French Fries