Friday, January 3, 2014

Frozen Fry Follies?

As an Irish-American, I like to think I know a thing or two about potatoes... at least enough to question the viability of frozen French fries. We left no spud unturned - from Ore-Ida to frozen varieties of fast food favorites Arby's, Checkers & Red Robin. I still prefer making my own; but we took on the following fries, and came up with...

Alexia House Cut Fries with Sea Salt: I'm quite fond of Alexia's full line (especially their Onion Rings and Yukon Selects) and their House Cut Fries fall right in line. I didn't taste Sea Salt per se, but five ingredients (including two to promote browning and retain color) never baked so good. Requires more time in the oven (they recommend 30-35 minutes, I say 20) but great for a no-fuss, everyday spud.

Grade: B

Alexia House Cut Fries with Sea Salt

Arby's Seasoned Curly Fries: They look similar; but Arby's frozen fries lack the seasoning and overall pizazz of the "original." That said, they're still plenty good, and cook really well (try cooking 'em at 425° instead of 450°.) A good impostor, but too greasy to recommend wholeheartedly. Maybe if I had some Arby's sauce for dipping...

Grade: B-

Arby's Seasoned Curly Fries

Checkers/Rally's Famous Fries: Finally a fry that's as good (if not better) than the original. Still can't match the real thing in terms of crispiness (fryer vs. oven = no contest) but these frozen fries are downright zesty, and quite delicious. Retails at $2.99 for a whopping 28 oz. bag. So far, the only one I'd want to buy again.

Grade: B+

Checkers/Rally's Famous Fries

McCain Seasoned CrossTrax: Skin-on, waffle cut & tasty too, McCain hits a home run with their CrossTrax fries - a literal steal, on sale at $2.50/26 oz. bag. They cook perfectly (I shortened the time by about five minutes) and hold fryer-firm without the oil, etc. Seasoning doesn't come close to Checkers/Rally's, but a great stash in any freezer.

Grade: B

McCain Seasoned CrossTrax

Nathan's Jumbo Crinkle Cut French Fries: The bag says "World Famous Recipe," but I found these crinkle cuts to be a shade above average at best. Well-priced on sale ($2.50 for a 28 oz. bag at Giant Food) they do the job... but little more. To be fair, I've had the "real McCoy" at Coney Island, and they weren't much better.

Grade: C+

Nathan's Jumbo Crinkle Cut French Fries

Ore Ida Easy Fries: For folks who don't like waiting, Ore Ida makes Extra Crispy Easy Fries... ready in just 4 minutes (via your microwave.) They look good, but "extra crispy?" No way. They're actually kinda soft. Thankfully though, they taste pretty good; and you can often find them on sale for just $1 (4.75 oz.) Good for "In Case of Emergency..." only.

Grade: C+

Ore Ida Easy Fries

Red Robin Seasoned Steak Fries: I dig the seasoning... and Steak Fries are one of my favorites; but was anyone clamoring for Red Robin fries in the first place? Nice texture... but I was fumbling for my salt shaker, two bites in. Better with ketchup. $2.99 for a 22 oz. bag (two decent servings.)

Grade: B-

Red Robin Seasoned Steak Fries