Sister fast-food chains Rally's and Checkers serve iconic fries with a crispy, seasoned exterior, fluffy potato center and orange-brown color. Like most restaurants, Rally's and Checkers keep the exact recipe for their fries closely guarded to stay ahead of the competition. Make a batch at home when you crave these signature fries with no restaurant in sight. The recipe might not be advertised, but the ingredients list on Checkers frozen fries coupled with basic fries' food science techniques can help achieve nearly identical results.
Preheat oil in a deep fryer to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit or to high heat. Alternatively, add at least 2 inches of oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet. Try peanut oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil or a blend of different oils for a deeper flavor profile.
Peel several potatoes and cut them into fries about 1/4 inch in diameter. High-starch potatoes such as russets hold their shape well for frying, but medium-starch varieties such as Kennebec and Yukon Gold also work well. Place the cut fries in water to prevent oxidation while you cut the rest of the potatoes.
Prepare a thin batter from boxed pancake mix or make your own from scratch; typical ingredients include flour, egg, sugar, milk and salt. Add a bit of cornmeal to the batter -- about 1/8 cup for every 1 cup of flour or pancake mix -- to lend crunchy texture to the exterior. Checkers fries have a slightly bubbly exterior that you can achieve by adding 2 cups of club soda for every 1 cup of dry ingredients in the batter recipe. Alternatively, use approximately 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of dry flour or pancake mix in the batter recipe.
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Mix seasoned salt, black pepper, paprika and dry mustard in a separate bowl. Use 1 part black pepper and paprika for every 4 parts of seasoned salt, and 1 part dry mustard for every 8 parts of seasoned salt.
Stir the dry spice blend into the batter mixture, using approximately 1 tablespoon of spice mixture for every 1 cup of finished batter.
Remove the fries from the water and drain thoroughly. Toss the fries in flour until they're evenly coated, which helps absorb excess moisture from the potatoes and helps the batter stick.
Dip the fries in the batter a handful at a time. Lift the fries out of the batter and allow the excess batter to drip back into the bowl. The fries should be lightly coated with batter, unlike the thick coating on a corn dog.
Add the battered fries to the deep fryer or skillet and fry for about 7 minutes or until evenly brown. Shake the fryer basket periodically or turn the fries halfway through to prevent their sticking together.
Remove the fries from the fryer or skillet and place them on paper towels to drain. Toss the hot fries with additional dry spice mix, if desired.
Substitute frozen fries if you don't want to cut potatoes from scratch. Choose fries that measure roughly 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch instead of thin shoestring potatoes. Simply dip the frozen fries directly in the batter and fry them as you would when using fresh-cut fries.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.