I’m a fan of the French Fry. Probably too big a fan. I like steak fries, I like thin fries, I like big potato wedge fries….Basically stick a potato in oil and I’m along for the ride. To be sure there are bad fries as well. There’s nothing good about soggy fries, for example. They make me want to toss things off my balcony. Sometimes the place down the street makes fries that are awesome, other times they come out like a mushy wet mess. When that happens I want to toss the fries at their plate-glass windows in protest.
Fries aren’t really particularly a health food either. No surprise that. While potatoes are cheap, continually buying enough oil to fry them in is neither cheap nor particularly earth friendly (not to mention being able to hear your arteries snapping shut.) So what to do? Bake them, that’s what. Not convinced? I wasn’t particularly when I first decided to try it. It does make a good fry. Is it the same thing you’ll get from McDonald’s? No. Is that a bad thing? Not in my mind. This makes a great “fry” if you can call it that. And they’re a hell of a lot healthier than something cooked in oil. You’ll use some oil in this recipe, but not a vat full. No bad thing, that.
You start with whatever kind of potato you’d like. For me, I grabbed a few big Russets. I used four large potatoes to make two large cookie sheets full of fries. I slice them in half the long way. Then slice them in half again. I just keep doing that until I end up with wedges, larger on the skin side and coming to a point toward the center. You can make tradition “fry” shaped fries if you want to. You can actually, do whatever you like. The thicker they are the longer they will take to bake. So be forewarned. After I’ve got my wedges I toss them all into a bowl, drizzle oil, salt, pepper, paprika, maybe a little onion and garlic powder, and toss them to coat evenly. The same trick I use on my homefries I use on these. The microwave. I do about four minutes. Stir and remix them all, and then go another four minutes. That’s usually enough to give them a good head start on cooking and will give them a better texture when they finally do come out.
I spray my cookie sheets down with a little bit of oil. I have this pump spray thing that you put olive oil in and pump it up to pressurize the little bottle. Then you can spray the oil out onto whatever. You could pour a little oil on the sheet and wipe it down with a paper towel if you’re not so equipped. However you do it, you should definitely oil them up. Otherwise your potatoes will stick horribly to the surface. That’s no good. I spread the potatoes out on the sheet so that they’re almost touching. You can give them another sprinkling of seasoning if you want. They are officially now ready to bake.
I put them in an oven preheated to 425 degrees F. They should bake about 40 to 45 minutes. Half way through you should pull them out, flip all the potatoes over, and if you have two trays in, swap their positions as well; top on the bottom and bottom on the top. After the 45 minutes you should have some nicely browned potatoes. If you slice them thick, it’ll take a bit longer. If you go pretty thin, you should watch them a bit because it may take a bit less time.
When you decide to remove them you can put them on a wire rack to cool if you want. I generally dump them into a paper bag – like one you get from the supermarket. I salt and pepper them and then seal the bag and shake the hell out of the them. It removes a little bit of the oil and is a great way to season them. I pour them out onto a plate and voila! Fries (or Bakes?)
For a nice big bowl of fries (the bowl pictured above is HUGE as a note – bigger than my giant misshapen head) – definitely enough for two people to get some good eating out of, you’ll need:
- 4 Large Russet Potatoes
- Oil to Coat – both potatoes and pans – 3-4 tablespoons altogether maybe?
- 1 Tablespoon of Salt (plus whatever you need to season to taste when done)
- 1 Tablespoon of Freshly Ground Pepper (again – plus what you’ll need to season)
- 1 Teaspoon Paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder (purely optional)