The fast food dish cheese fries can refer to any number of variations of the same two basic ingredients. All of the different takes on the dish include French fried potatoes and cheese, but the forms and additions can vary widely. The cheese used to top French fried potatoes may be crumbled, grated or a sauce of American, Swiss, cheddar or another variety. The fries may be homemade or the frozen commercial type and cut in any number of thicknesses and textures. Cooked bacon, beans, chili, ranch dressing and gravy are popular toppings tcombined with the cheese, but the chosen additions will depend mainly on the culture and/or traditions of a geographic area.
The basic French Canadian version of cheese fries is poutine, which is made with cheddar curds and a peppered beef gravy. The gravy mixes with the curd cheese to form a messy, yet delicious sauce over hot French fries. Poutine does have different variations, but the gravy and curd cheese are staple in the dish, which is especially associated with Montreal, Canada.
In some versions of this dish, a cheese sauce rather than crumbled or grated cheeses may be used. It starts with a white sauce, or French roux, which is made by melting butter and stirring in flour before adding milk. The milk must be cooked over lower heat so as not to curdle it. When the sauce is thick and smooth, it can be removed from the heat and grated or crumbled cheese may be added. Some cooks who prepare a sauce for cheese fries like to add a little tomato sauce to it, while others prefer it as is or to top it with bacon, beans, chili or ranch style dressing at serving time.
French fries for any version of the dish are usually prepared as they always would be and ready to serve hot. Some cooks like to then add the cheese and place the dish under the broiler for a few minutes. Cooks rarely add any type of vegetables since cheese fries is a fast food dish, but sliced green onions are popular to add both flavor and color. In areas where Mexican foods are popular, cooks may add a little spice to the dish by sprinkling on chopped jalapeno peppers. A popular Italian-themed take on this dish is to use pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.