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Big Orange is tops for fries

It unseats longtime winner McDonald's.

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After 17 years, Arkansas Times readers finally woke up to the notion that there are French fries better than McDonald's. Namely those at Big Orange, the gourmet burger joint that, to the delight of fans who live east of I-430, just opened a second location in the Midtowne shopping center at the corner of Markham and University.

What's so special about Big Orange French fries? They're golden, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside — pretty much French fry perfection. But what makes them so special? To answer that, we quizzed Big Orange Midtown's kitchen manager, Maeve Cook.

The potato

Big Orange uses the Kennebec variety, which Cook says have the perfect balance of sugar to starch. "There's no other potato that can really compare," she said. Big Orange goes through about a ton and a half of potatoes in a typical week (50 or 60 50-lb. bags)

The process

Potatoes get rinsed, run through a dicer, rinsed again, blanched in hot oil for three to four minutes, set aside to cool and then cooked again in oil for three to four minutes. Cooking them twice ensures they'll be fully cooked in the inside and crispy on the outside. No limp fries here. The rinsing process, which removes excess starch, is just as key, according to Cook. With standard Kennebec starch, the fries would still be good. Removing some of it makes them great.

The presentation

House fries are served hot with kosher salt. Truffle-Garlic-Herb fries get doused with high-quality white truffle oil, truffle salt and an herb mix.

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