As the Managing Editor of Serious Eats, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has quickly become one of my favorite food writers. He effortlessly cycles between recounting valiant kitchen experiments and sharing his best bites from New York's daunting restaurant scene (including some at impressively reasonable prices).
In the never-ending quest for french fries that I developed as a child, it never popped into my mind to try making my own. Between the convenience and the reasonable assurance of satisfaction, it just seemed so natural to trust somebody else to quell my appetite. In terms of convenience, it doesn't get much easier than McDonald's. As Kenji points out, their fries are just damn delightful. They are by no means the best I've ever had, but they are some of the only fries I prefer to eat without condiments (mayo, cheese, or aioli generally being my favorite). When properly prepared, McDonald's fries set the gold standard and win a few extra points for the nostalgia factor.
When I read about Kenji's attempt to recreate them in his own kitchen, I was cautiously optimistic. If the perfect McDonald's-style fries were in fact possible to make in my own house, would I feel compelled to give up the instant gratification of buying them?
Ultimately, reading through Kenji's enlightening but rather complicated recipe just confirmed my suspicions: the results, even if they compare favorably, require just a bit too much time and effort for something that McDonald's does so right for $3. Delayed gratification for fries? Maybe for Minetta Tavern or even Pommes Frites fries, but for the standard golden McDonald's fries, I just can't stand the wait. More on my favorite fries to come...
Check out Kenji's articles on Serious Eats here