Curly, obviously.
November 23, 2021 12:59 PM   Subscribe

 
I think they do tots dirty in the final analysis because they aren't just a cylindrical plug of potato, they have a lot of surfaces to fry up and get golden brown and delicious. But there's a lot of badly done tots out there, so on the whole maybe they're not so wrong?
posted by Kyol at 1:03 PM on November 23 [17 favorites]


I feel like the crinkle cut (my favorite) would fall somewhere between the waffle and curly, but I'd want to see the data to be sure. And I'd like to see the plain "fry" divided into skinny and thicker cuts. McDonald's fries and steak fries are basically the same shape, but the proportions are a lot different. But it would be interesting to see it quantified.

Also, it's remarkable that the author managed not to use the phrase "surface area to volume ratio".
posted by jedicus at 1:08 PM on November 23 [13 favorites]


Agree with tot sub-analysis. Optimal Tots are almost like a ridged cylinder, versus a smooth one.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:09 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


I'm a lover not a fighter.

But I will fight for Tator Tots.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:10 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]


I think that's a pretty incomplete analysis. For starters, you can visit almost any ratio of fried to unfried just by varying the size of a french fry. But that doesn't mean there's no use for chips or waffle fries or chips or whatever. I think that the shape has more complex effects on the results - sort of like pasta. Wedge-shaped steak fries, for instance, have a lot of variation in the thickness of the potato, where potato chips are very consistent. That has a huge affect on the experience of eating them!
posted by aubilenon at 1:10 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]


As someone who likes fries/chips but dislikes potatoes... yeah. The ideal shape may be something like Gabriel's Horn, with finite volume but infinite surface area. (Start at x=5 or something.)

For tater tots, maybe a Menger Sponge shape would do the trick.
posted by kurumi at 1:12 PM on November 23 [4 favorites]


Wow. That data presentation was like taking the worst parts of print and video and mashing them together into a brand new horror.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:13 PM on November 23 [18 favorites]


Oh my god those floating potatoes are like the nightmares I had on Atkins.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:15 PM on November 23 [8 favorites]


Where’s the data on crispiness/sogginess!? We don’t have all the sliders we need! Curly fries are not so good because while they have a good fried to unfried ratio they often, nonetheless, exhibit a logy-ness. Too much surface area leading to a too quick cool-down?
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:16 PM on November 23 [6 favorites]


Tater Tots are a symbiotic potatoform, engineered out of the negative space of other potato products. Tater tots or a different fried potato product is a false choice - the first is an industrial inevitability of the second.
posted by zamboni at 1:16 PM on November 23 [15 favorites]


I like the animation, but I want the full alignment chart. Waffle? Wedges? Tots?! Potato chips?? Come on! Why not add hash browns? Baked potatoes? Potato pancakes and Pierogis?

My favorite type of french fry is vodka.
posted by surlyben at 1:30 PM on November 23 [10 favorites]


We don’t have all the sliders we need!

Well *I* certainly don't. There's not a White Castle for miles.
posted by kristi at 1:33 PM on November 23 [8 favorites]


Waffe fries are clearly the best, although I admit tots are a close second
posted by stripesandplaid at 1:51 PM on November 23


3/8" for chili-cheese-onion fries. Shoestring 1/8" is only really good for ketchup, even then the 3/8" is better. Steak fries are just flat potatoes. Tots are the best mostly, but tend to be compact and too small for anything but finger food. They tear apart often with a fork, if you dip them around you get you fingers all messed up (no real grip area). Now to the TFA.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:56 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Wow, I have so many opinions. Curly or shoestring fries or tots for sweet potatoes if I have something to dip into (usually a mix of Cholula hot sauce, fresh squeezed lime, salt, pepper and more salt, maybe some ketchup). Potato wedges or steak fries for anything smothered in cheese or gravy or bacon, steak cut fries with skin on for dipping in peanut sauce or eating plain. JoJo fries are some of my favorites too.

Key thing is it has to have enough steam trapped in the fry to keep it hot long enough to finish the order of fries. If I'm ordering a side with a salad or sandwich or burger I want a thicker fry, if I'm just eating fries I'm happy with something thinner.

Jeffrey Steingarten had an entire chapter about which fat to cook fries in. I'm sure 90% of Metafilter will be aghast that he chose horse fat. I would definitely try duck fat or leaf lard fries if I got the chance, but really I'm at a point in my life where just getting fried food is a rare treat.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:57 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]


For me, the pandemic prompted a whole new analysis of greasy potatoes, because we didn’t have fries for over a year. We could have done it at home, but didn’t really feel like deep frying. So, we had to try to figure out what potatoes were best in the oven. The answer to this is pretty much tater tots. Although there were some other good shapes, like stars and circles, that also worked as long as the outside was rough like a tot. Little cubes (pommes rissolées) are okay in a pan if you are already cooking a duck breast and have lots of extra duck fat. French processed potato products tend to use potatoes with more moisture, so the inside is creamy, versus the fluffiness of drier American potatoes, but both can achieve exterior crispiness, though there maybe some processing shenanigans involved, I don’t know.
posted by snofoam at 2:16 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


All potato shapes are beautiful, man.
posted by Foosnark at 2:21 PM on November 23 [6 favorites]


...except Pringles. I could do without those.
posted by Foosnark at 2:22 PM on November 23


What, no Philip J.? I am literally angry with rage!
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 2:23 PM on November 23 [7 favorites]


This analysis is based on the false premise that the cut is the only thing affecting fry/center ratio. But curly fries are battered, making the crunchy part thicker than it would be if it were just potato alone. "Steak fries" that are battered are better than plain wedge fries for the same reason.
posted by HotToddy at 2:31 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]


Battered fries are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:34 PM on November 23 [8 favorites]


I have a fondness for bad fries probably stemming from eating oven fries or the stuff served at Harvey's as a kid. Even today I'll buy frozen crinkle cut fries and bake them in the oven to feed my kids. Once in a while I'll buy crispy fries that have had something done to them, they aren't battered but I don't think they're just potato either, and my kids will notice the difference and say "we want those fries" next time.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:40 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Batter works really well on sweet potato fries, because they don't really get crispy otherwise. Potatoes don't need help.
posted by pipeski at 2:43 PM on November 23


Screw your debate. Roasted potatoes done well are the best of both worlds, tasting like a fluffy baked potato that has made sweet, sweet love to a french fry.
posted by cardboard at 2:45 PM on November 23 [6 favorites]


Pommes Dauphine anyone? I believe they were the T. Tots of Larousse's day.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 2:51 PM on November 23 [7 favorites]


Fried potatoes have never done much for me. Regular french fries, wedges, waffle fries, hash browns, potato chips. I've never really cared for them. But if I'm gonna have them it's gotta be tots or curly fries.
posted by downtohisturtles at 2:53 PM on November 23


Yeah we're also eating less fried food due to staying at home so much, but I wanted fries the other night and vaguely remembered reading an article about Robuchon having a simple method for stovetop fries at home. The basic idea as I understood it is you essentially confit potato batons for a while, then turn up the heat to fry until crispy. I was too tired to look up the recipe, which is a risky move, but they turned out edible! Next time I'll have to review the recipe, surely it's online somewhere.
posted by polymodus at 3:33 PM on November 23


It’s a really pretty, complicated, labor-intensive presentation of information that could have been conveyed in a single sentence fragment.

Which is to say: data visualization!
posted by ook at 3:58 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


polymodus, I've used this recipe to good effect. No preheating the oil, just put the oil and potatoes in an appropriate pot and heat it up.
posted by mollweide at 3:59 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Curly fries are superior because of the unique spice mix involving paprika, garlic, and pure joy that is on them. Something that no straight fries, except those from checkers, manage to due. It's nothing to do with the shape.
posted by Hactar at 4:22 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


If you haven't made loaded nachos with waffle fries instead of chips you haven't lived.
posted by nestor_makhno at 4:27 PM on November 23 [8 favorites]


Waffe fries are clearly the best

I found the narc.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:28 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]


If you haven't made loaded nachos with waffle fries instead of chips you haven't lived.

And the alien imposter.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:28 PM on November 23 [4 favorites]


Welp, the more fried, the better certainly pans out with how much I like a fry. I want them crunchy and crispy, dammit!

I had some kind of "elbow" fries last night that were delicious, actually.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:43 PM on November 23


Whenever we go to visit family in Lawrence, Kansas, we always eat at least a few times at The Burger Stand. The burgers are great (I like the Black & Blue), but the fries, man... Truffle fries, duck fat fries, Cajun fries, beer-battered onion rings, sweet potato fries, and like a dozen sauces for dipping.
posted by xedrik at 4:43 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Totchos were the last fad I remember with local food trucks pre-pandemic.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:43 PM on November 23


I don't understand the difference between curly fries and straight fries. The surface area to volume ratio is a tiny bit different. I'm very surprised it's visible. I also have questions about their heat conduction modeling. But, this is fun!
posted by eotvos at 4:47 PM on November 23


I agree that tots are great, however, their flatter cousins the crispy crowns have even more area to crisp up.

Imagine that a tot is a stack of coins, and then knock the stack over and you have a bunch of crispy crowns.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:49 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]


Waffle fries with brown gravy. I can smell it with my imagination!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:54 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Imagine that a tot is a stack of coins, and then knock the stack over and you have a bunch of crispy crowns.

In principle I love it, but in practice it is getting pretty close to those smiley face abominations.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:04 PM on November 23


All potato shapes are beautiful, man.

Not everyone is a fan of hardcore taters.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:18 PM on November 23 [9 favorites]


what potatoes were best in the oven. The answer to this is pretty much tater tots. Although there were some other good shapes, like stars and circles, that also worked as long as the outside was rough like a tot

I think this is from K Lopez-Alt -- dice your potatoes not too small, steam them until cooked (Instant Pot frex), promptly unlid them and pour off any water and shake the pot around violently until all the steam has stopped -- their outsides will get dry and all beat up -- then pour oil and seasonings into the pot, shake until all the battered potato lumps are oily, now tip them all into a shallow pan and oven-roast.

They shrink *alarmingly* in the oven but are soooooo crunchy on the outside and all fluffy tender potato inside. And the work is pretty well contained in time and space.
posted by clew at 5:26 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]


perhaps I’m baked but imo those with a chip on their shoulder in this conversation could maybe stop roasting each other and hash out their differences
posted by Lyme Drop at 6:13 PM on November 23 [5 favorites]


whaffle Frye's with single malt vinegar.
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


PO-TA-TOES?

Boil em, mash em, fry em, curl em, tot em...

I'm in
posted by Windopaene at 8:21 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Note a single proper chip on the page. Cut chunky from floury potato, fried once, then let rest, then fried again. Salt, vinegar: done.

If you think that's bad, wait until you hear about scraps ...
posted by scruss at 8:28 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Scraps sound worthwhile...
posted by Windopaene at 8:30 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


> What, no Philip J.? I am literally angry with rage!

You can't just announce how you feel
posted by kurumi at 9:40 PM on November 23


The failure to consider crinkle-cut chips (arguably the perfect compromise, but now we'll never know) makes this study invalid.
posted by dg at 9:55 PM on November 23


Kennywood's Potato Patch Fries. The malt vinegar is the best topping.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:16 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


As someone who regularly works with keyboard-only and screen reader users, this site is terribly inaccessible. :(
posted by greenhornet at 1:25 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]


> PO-TA-TOES?

Boil em, mash em, fry em, curl em, tot em...

I'm in


You're so precious. But I bet you've never tried blind cave fish, served up on a rock.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:57 AM on November 24


dg > The failure to consider crinkle-cut chips (arguably the perfect compromise, but now we'll never know) makes this study invalid.

When Frozen Is Better Than Fresh: The Lesson Of Shake Shack’s Crinkle-Cut Fries, Chris-Shott, Food Republic, 3/31/2016:
Call it a crisis of conscience. In 2013, Shake Shack, the surging New York City–based burger chain, made the bold decision to replace its popular crinkle-cut fries. The crinkle-cuts were outliers on the original Shake Shack menu. Most everything else was made in-house with fresh ingredients. The crinkle-cuts came frozen from a manufacturer. For an organization steeped in the traditions of fine dining, with its prevailing fresh-is-best philosophy, the icy spuds seemed sub-optimal to say the least.

The Shack’s bosses thought they could do better with fresh-cut fries. They were wrong. Customers lamented the change. Fry sales dropped. One guy even started an online petition to bring back the crinkle-cuts. Eventually, the company did just that....
Lessons learned follow in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 10:35 AM on November 24 [3 favorites]


Crispy bits, please.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:38 AM on November 24


If you haven't made loaded nachos with waffle fries instead of chips you haven't lived.

I have and I liked it. To be fair, I've also made "nachos" with pierogies (fried to golden crispy perfection first, then topped with cheese and nacho toppings of one's choice, then into the oven).

Tex-Ukranian?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:37 PM on November 24


Tater tots also make for excellent poutine.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:38 PM on November 24 [3 favorites]


For those looking for decent frozen potato products, the Alexia brand line are pretty darn good.
posted by mollweide at 3:55 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


My mother-in-law's home fries. Some cooks steam or boil the potatoes first, but she doesn't.
Peel and cut potatoes into very thin strips (less than a quarter inch thick). Heat oil in a cast iron skillet (electric skillet with a lid is better), add potatoes to hot oil. Fry at medium heat.
Wait. Wait some more. Move the potatoes around to keep from burning. Wait some more.
At some point, the potatoes become browned.
If you like, add onion at the end (or it will burn to a crisp long before the potatoes are done). Fry some more.
Ladle hot home fries onto paper towels and pat off some of the oil. Serve hot, include salt, ketchup, mustard for personal tastes.
Good with just about anything.
posted by TrishaU at 12:12 AM on November 25


Ore-Ida frozen french fries make a surprisingly crisp and tasty fry with minimal effort, at least if baked on a wire rack in a sheetpan. I use them when I have fresh cheese curd and a poutine urge. Though I normally have to cook them a good bit longer than the recommended time to get the proper lightly browned crispness.
posted by tavella at 9:35 AM on November 25


The "lesson learned" in cenoxo‘s link fits my experience- it often doesn’t matter to me if an ingredient has been industrially processed as long as the process has not added ingredients.

Sometimes it does, so I’m making pumpkin pie with canned condensed milk but we ground the flour for the crust yesterday.
posted by clew at 12:28 PM on November 25


Wait, who fries an entire potato like that?!
posted by storybored at 4:51 PM on November 25


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