You Want Fries on That?
Try one of these twists on the old familiar french fry
The humble french fry. So often taken for granted, it’s usually relegated to the outskirts of your plate with nothing more than a puddle of ketchup as accompaniment. But some—Canadians, for example—have taken the ubiquitous deep-fried potato stick and daringly combined it with other components of a meal to build entirely new dishes, turning what is already a guilty pleasure into a capital offense. The french fry has more range than you might realize.
1. Belgian Frites. The original, perhaps the best, gets pride of placement on this list for its pure simplicity. Typically served in paper cones, the European frite is deep-fried in animal fat for a richer flavor and topped with a slathering of mayonnaise. An alternate dipping option is a mix of mayo with chopped pickles, tomato paste, and hot sauce, called, for no apparent reason, sauce Americaine (not to be confused with the classic French lobster sauce).
2. Poutine. This Québecois dish of thick-cut fries drowned in gravy and topped with gooey curds of cheddar cheese has been called one of the world’s least healthy foods. A version found in New York and New Jersey—substituting melted cheese for the curds—is called disco fries.
3. Chili Cheese Fries. Like so many of these variations, this classic late-night guilty pleasure is best after a beer (or five).
4. The Primanti Bros. Sandwich. At Pittsburgh’s venerable Primanti Bros. restaurant chain, fries come standard—not next to the sandwich but on it. Coleslaw, too. The monster sub was created back in the 1930s for dockworkers who wanted a meal they could devour on the job.
5. The Garbage Plate. This monstrosity originated at Nick Tahou Hots in Rochester, New York. It consists of a meat selection (hot dog, beef patty, sausage, or any number of others) topped with french fries coated in macaroni and mayonnaise, then finished off with cheese, mustard, horseradish, and hot sauce. According to one Chowhound, it “will give you heartburn for about 72 hours.”
6. Carne Asada Fries. A San Diego specialty, this dish is the perfect mix of Mexican and American staple junk foods: fries covered in grilled steak strips, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream; sometimes served with pico de gallo salsa on top.
7. The Horseshoe Sandwich. This artery-clogger (is a trend emerging here?) from Springfield, Illinois, starts with one or two pieces of toast, topped with a fried ham steak or burger patties, scattered liberally with fries, and coated with a special cheese sauce (special meaning Velveeta-based or sometimes a more proprietary mix of real cheese, beer, and Worcestershire sauce).
8. The Chip Butty. The British contribution to the (dubious) evolution of the french fry is simply a sandwich filled with thick-cut fries and a condiment or two—traditional choices include ketchup, gravy, and brown sauce.
9. Urban Fries. Jack’s Urban Eats in Sacramento, California, appears to have developed this dish, featuring french fries drizzled in blue cheese salad dressing and chile oil.
10. Animal Style Fries. Unique to the In-N-Out Burger chain (notorious for its secret menu). Your fries will come topped with melted American cheese, grilled onions, and a jumbo squirt of In-N-Out’s “secret sauce” (which bears a strong resemblance to Thousand Island dressing).
Ten photograph by Gene Lee