Oven fries are normally not a match for “fried” fries. Oven fries are basically “potato strips”, and if you happen to love potatoes in any form, that’s fine. But if you’re craving a healthier version of a French fry (or just don’t want to go through the trouble of preparing a deep fryer), it’s dang hard to find a substitute. I’m working on it.
Monday was the closest I’ve come yet to a perfect oven fry, and I was proud of the result.
This is the secret that I learned from Deb from Smitten Kitchen: cook the potatoes twice. Once to cook the inside, once to cook the outside. Sort of the opposite of cooking meat, where you sear the outside and then let the inside cook, for potatoes you want to cook the inside until they’re tender, and then crisp the outside. Brilliant!
Here’s what I did: I sliced up two russet potatoes into fries, then soaked them for 30 minutes in a microwave-safe bowl of ice water. (This removes some of the starch which will end up making them crispier). Drain the water and microwave the fries in the bowl for four minutes, tossing after two minutes (this may take longer if you are making a bigger batch of fries). Lay the potatoes out and dry them thoroughly with a tea towel (or paper towel, if that’s all you have).
Toss the fries with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for thirty minutes, tossing potatoes several times. If you like super crispy fries like I do, you may want to bake them even longer.
So here are the “secrets:”
*Soak potatoes in ice cold water
*Pre-cook in microwave
*Dry potatoes completely before baking