Stopped at Ramova Grill today on South Halsted to give their burger a try. I didn't have any chili today, and the burger was okay, but...those fries.
How long has it been since you had really great french fried potatoes? Surely you remember them? You know...not all of the pieces are the same length, they actually taste like potato, they still taste great three minutes after you are served, and those little crispy bits on the bottom of the plate are heavenly. You know you remember. Most of the fries are uniformly crisp, but there are always a few limp, soggy ones, which taste even better than the crisp ones, more potatoey. Then you usually get a few super hard dark bits too. When I am served fries like these my hand is in constant motion, until every speck of potato is gone.
Yeah, it's a lot of trouble to do real french fries. First of all, you have to get russet potatoes. No other type of potato works as well. The next step is to peel the potatoes, and then cut them. They are soaked/washed to remove excess starch, and then dried before being fried twice. The first dip in the oil, usually about 275F or so, cooks them without any browning or crisping. They are then held at room temperature until ready to cook, at which time they are immersed in app. 360-375F oil to crisp them up. They should be salted immediately, and that is exactly what the counterman at Ramova does. He drains the basket, drops the fries in a stainless steel bowl, sprinkles with salt, and then tosses to distribute the seasoning. As I was leaving, I complimented the counterman on his fries. He smiled and seemed to perk up a bit. How many short order cooks have the discipline and pride to produce such quality at 95 cents a pop?
Real french fries cannot be held in the refrigerator. That ruins them as they seem to dehydrate and become almost leathery. They must be held at room temperatiure for service and thrown away at the end of the night.
It's much easier to reach into a freezer, pull out a bag of Simplot, Sysco, or whatever frozen shoestring fries, but what a difference.
As I was approaching my booth today, I got a good look at the fries and knew that I was in for a treat. I'm alseady planning my next visit there-probably a tuna salad sandwich or a BLT with those great fries.
I'm not sure, but I have a hunch that they cook the fries in beef fat, rather than some hydrogenated, chemical laden frying compound designed to withstand high volume frying.