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A Few Fries Short Of A Happy Meal…

Q:

Ever heard the term “a few fries short of a happy meal”? Well, short fries drive Dr. Potato insane! Why, you ask?

A:

Lately I’ve order fries at a fast food drive thru and at an upscale steak house and been disappointed both times because of the little shorty pieces. I’ve written about what causes this before on Dr. Potato, there are many reasons why this happens… replace the FF cutter blade, don’t drop the carton or bag of raw potatoes, don’t over agitate the fries (like tossing in a bowl as high as possible to show off to customers). Or the most obvious reasons… use the right variety and size!  Americans love their French fries long. Chefs should too. The shorter the fry, the more goes into a container before it looks full.

soggy fries

This Bar-B-Q fast food drive thru order contains a lot of shorty fries. No 4-5-6 inch fries here. These were cooked to order, extra hot when they were handed out the window. The portion size was way heavy, but in this case the yellow flesh potatoes just soaked up the oil. Part of the reason is due to the Styrofoam take out container, can’t breathe, so the fries just continue to release steam but there is no way to escape. Look closely at the picture, several of the strips are the whole length of the potato. This is costing the operator money. A 10 ounce and above Idaho Russet Burbank would have been a better choice for a crispy long fry. Ditch the container too. It probably would be cheaper to double brown bag the fries and add some napkins (these help absorb steam too).

My other example is from a high class steak house in Chicago:

chicago fries

Again, picking the right size potato (larger) will actually save you money. Short fries absorb more oil because of more exposed outer surfaces (per the weight of the fry strips) and oil is the most expensive part of every order of fries served. These were also a yellow flesh variety, which can make exceptionally good fries but are just not as forgiving as an Idaho Russet Burbank. One other note… the printed menu said nothing about a spice blend added to the fries. Always let the customer know. In this instance the spices were probably added after frying. A little heavy handed though.