French fries aren’t the best food to get delivered. The crispiness dramatically decreases with the passing of time; ordering them during the pandemic rarely provides the same pleasure as eating sliced spuds fresh out of the fryer. But it’s not a fate that all fries meet: The thick, steamy fries of Quik Dog are shatteringly crisp on the outside with a fluffy interior, even after having traveled for a while.
The Mission District takeout and delivery spot is the work of 7-year-old Trick Dog, one of the world’s most esteemed bars that in normal times is packed with patrons vying to catch eyes with the bartender for craft cocktails. When owner Josh Harris considered reopening, he knew he couldn’t just do Trick Dog as it once was. “The vibe wouldn’t be right,” he says.
So Harris trimmed down the food menu into what he thought would work well for his first foray into delivery and takeout — the flagship hamburger in a hot dog bun, the classic creamy kale salad, and the fries, of course — and in August brought on chef Timmy Malloy to run the kitchen. Fries have been on the menu since day one when Trick Dog opened in 2013, developed under the original chef Chester Watson. But as chefs shuffle in and out of the kitchen over the years, processes and procedures can change even as recipes remain the same.
“The fries aren’t an afterthought. They’re a dish that has equal footing to everything else in our mindset,” says Harris. “It’s not a side.”
The core of the fries remains the same — a riff on a special thrice-cooked technique invented by Heston Blumenthal, a chef known for his scientific approach to cooking and the owner of three-Michelin-starred the Fat Duck in England. Now, though, Quik Dog is facing far more volume, about four times the demand for fries than before the pandemic, which has required a slight tweak.
The process still starts with sourcing the proper potato, the Kennebec, which has an earthy, nutty taste and a low moisture content. The potatoes then go through a levered potato cutter, unpeeled, just like the ones you see at In-N-Out except thicker. The fries are then soaked to remove starch — both water and starch are the enemies of crispiness.
The cut potatoes then get cooked in salted boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re 85% to 90% cooked through. “You don’t want a hard boil because they’ll fall apart too much,” Malloy says.
But some breakage is key. The little parts and bits and bobs that break off take on different textures, soaking up a bit more oil and becoming extra crispy when fried.
“These often don’t make it on the plate and are what cooks usually snack on during service,” Malloy says, “but we designed the cooking process to create more of these small, super crispy fry cracklin’ type of things.”
The potatoes are then put on a wire rack set over a sheet pan and placed in a fridge to quickly cool, allowing the starches to crystallize and form on the outside — this is what gives the fries a crusty exterior.
The rapid cooling step is key, Malloy realized. Whereas before the fries could quickly go down in temperature simply by being placed near a cooling unit, the higher volume meant they weren’t cooling as fast as before. A quick drop in the fridge fixed that.
Once completely cool, the potatoes are fried at 265 degrees in rice bran oil until golden, then again placed on a wire rack to cool at room temperature to help get rid of more moisture. Upon order, they are given one last fry at 375 degrees until golden and brown. Finally, the fries go in a bowl, where they’re generously tossed with kosher salt.
The fries are placed in a small box that remains partially open to prevent them from steaming; they come with sides of ketchup and “Doggie sauce,” a creamy sauce made with ketchup, Sriracha and a chow chow, a Southern relish of cabbage, onion and chiles cooked down in spices.
These little potatoes are on the thicker side, with many fries boasting a higher ratio of creamy potato flesh to fried flesh. It’s a texture necessary for a well-traveled fry, and one that is, thankfully, still good when cold.