Thursday, September 9, 2010

McDonald’s type French Fries and Fresh Ground Beef Burgers


I’ve been looking forward to trying this method for making McDonald’s type French Fries at home ever since I read this post, How to Make Perfect Thin and Crisp French Fries, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. My husband just completed 3 months of exercise and dieting, and wanted to have an over-the-top nasty (in a good way) dinner to celebrate. I decided I wanted to try frying the potatoes in beef fat for old-style McDonald’s fries.



My husband persuaded a local butcher to save us some beef fat to render for frying. This is 12 lbs. trimmed beef fat ready to go in a slow oven to render over several hours.


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After straining and cooling overnight; I got lovely, creamy-white beef tallow.


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The fries must be exactly 1/4 inch for the process to work. My Oxo mandoline worked very well with the French Fry insert.


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The cut potatoes must be parboiled in acidulated, salted water until tender. Unfortunately, I made a slightly larger batch than called for in the recipe and since the water took longer to come to a boil, the potatoes were overdone. It finally occurred to me to check them before the time specified, but I was a bit too late. They didn’t crumble into mashed potatoes, but most of the long ones broke in half when I drained them. I’ll start checking them much earlier next time.

After drying on a paper towel-lined baking sheet, I fried the potatoes in the beef fat for 50 seconds, then spread them on another paper towel-lined sheet and froze them for several hours. They are supposed to be even closer to McD’s fries if frozen overnight, but I didn’t have the time.


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I wanted a great burger to serve with the fries, so I adapted another of Kenji’s recipes:  The World's Best Burger for a Single Man (or Woman). I ground a well-marbled chuck roast and some boneless beef short ribs with my KitchenAid meat grinder attachment.


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Very minimal handling is key to preserve the ground beef “noodles” for a greater surface area for crisping and catching melted cheese, and to prevent a dense interior. I ground the meat directly onto the lined sheet pan and gently coaxed the burgers into shape.



A close-up of the desired loose structure of the patty.


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The burger recipe called for frying one burger at a time (hence the “Single” modifier) in a small skillet so the fat from the burgers would get about 1/8” deep to get the edges as crispy as the bottom. To get all the burgers to finish as the fries were getting their final 3.5 minute fry (by my husband outside on the grill side-burner), I just added a bit of the beef tallow I had made to reproduce the effect.


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My goodness! Everything came out so delicious. The burgers were crispy outside – tender and juicy inside with lots of crags for the cheese to melt into. The fries (though shorter than they could have been) were light-golden bits of heaven. They were fluffy inside, not greasy (really), and stayed crispy to the last fry. I hope to get the gumption to make some batches up to the freezing stage (they are supposed to keep frozen for 2 months). How nice to be able to serve fresh fries like this in just a few minutes. But, I’ll think I’ll just buy the tallow next time…


Can I get a little extra credit for difficulty - cooking in the American Mastiff Obstacle Course?