The latest ingredient to fall victim to COVID-19? The Canadian potato. And not just any potato, but a specific variety of potato grown to become the delicious, crispy deep-fried french fries in your favourite restaurants. According to a recent National Post article, more than 200 million pounds of french fry potatoes are stuck in storage (and ultimately at risk of being discarded as food waste).
With many restaurants across the country closed or reduced to takeout and delivery, demand for french fries has–unsurprisingly–softened. And we get it: delivery fries just don’t stack up to the crisp, hot version you order on-demand in restaurants. Even stored with the best care by our (amazing) food service professionals, fries are usually limp and cold by the time they arrive at your home.
Unfortunately, it’s implied that most of these potatoes are intended for the restaurant food supply chain, and are not available for purchase at retail level, so we simply can’t save the spud from landfill by buying more potatoes at your local grocery store. You can, however, continue to order in fries from your favourite restaurant, and by using these simple tips, revive them at home to dining-out quality.
When restaurant french fries arrive at your table nice and hot, among the many reasons they’re delicious is a little thing called starch. All potatoes have it. When fries are cooked at a very high temperature, the starches in them are hydrated (moisture goes in), puffing them up and helping the outer skin get nice and crisp. When these same fries cool, the starches secrete moisture, which makes its way to the fries’ crust, leaving them soggy and limp. The secret to saving those fries: heat them up again—with a few extra steps.
How to reheat your fries, properly
We use the same reheating tips as when you have leftover French fries: Roughly chop your leftover fries into two-inch pieces (this ensures maximum crispiness). Once you’ve got them all about the same size, heat a few tablespoons of oil (canola, vegetable or olive) to medium-high in a heavy-bottom pan (a cast iron pan is best for even heat distribution, but you can also use a non-stick pan). When the oil is hot, place the fries in the pan and cook them for about five to ten minutes, stirring often, until you can see the fries start to crisp up again. When they’re done, move them to a paper-towel-lined plate to remove any excess oil, season if needed, and serve immediately.
Spice up your fries
Want to get a little creative? Revive your fries with a few delicious extras:
- Make a no-roast gravy (using packaged beef broth!) to top your fries, and sprinkle with some cheese curds to make homemade poutine.
- Make garlic aioli to dip your fries into, just like the Belgians do it.
- Top fries with kimchi, a drizzle of mayo and sprinkle with green onion to make kimchi fries.
With files from Jacob Rutka
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