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Ultra-Crispy Baked French Fries

Shelley
Posted by Shelley on Jan 20, 2021

 

What is it about a crispy potato that is so appealing? Do potatoes really have that much flavor all on their own? A good olive oil is extremely tasty, but the oil we traditionally cook French fries in doesn’t really add much in the way of taste, does it? Yet with just a simple sprinkle of salt, the lowly potato cooked in oil is transformed into something that has universal appeal, the French fry.

french fry 1

I have only met one person in my life who did not like French fries. My stepfather Neil wouldn’t touch them; he worked for a food distribution company and sold food to restaurants for many years. He sold hundreds, probably thousands of pounds of frozen French fries. Over time, he discovered that most frozen French fries are potatoes that have been ground up or dehydrated and then formed into something resembling a “real” French fry.

To him this was an abomination, one so unforgivable that he refused to eat them. Even Neil admitted he didn’t object to the taste of the French fries but rather his perceived deception they represented. I myself am an absolute fan of the fry, the only thing better than a crispy, crunchy and salty French fry is the cheeseburger setting next to it on my plate!

Neil Pearson

Neil Pearson

I know there are many people who simply avoid them in the name of health and weight management. Those of you avoiding carbs all together, I can’t help you, but if your objection lies with the deep-fried tradition, I have got you covered. I would be remiss not to point out that although potatoes are high in carbohydrates, they are themselves pretty healthy. Potatoes have a decent amount of fiber and are not particularly high in calories. A potato on its own isn’t the villain… if fries can be considered villainess, it is all the butter, cheese and fatty goodness we like to add to the potato that gives them a bad rap. I assert there is a way to satisfy both your health and weight management goals with what I might argue is the essential need to consume French fries. There are no shortage of videos and recipes out there for healthy baked fries, but I have discovered a few secrets to ultra-crispy baked French fries that I want to share with you.

french fry finished

Fresh Potatoes

One of the things I have discovered over the last few years, quite by accident, is that the freshness of the potatoes matters. Please don’t worry if you can’t grow your own potatoes, or don’t have access to farm fresh ones, you can still make pretty crispy baked French fries, it's just that when your potatoes are super fresh, your fries will be off the charts crispy.

potato garden

My potato garden

I started growing my own potatoes a couple years ago; it was more of a fun experiment than anything. I have a general rule for what I plant in my vegetable garden and that is this: if I can inexpensively and easily find it in the grocery store, I don’t usually grow it. I only have so much room in my garden and potatoes fall into that category for me but I made an exception. I wanted to see what an extremely fresh potato was like. Let me tell you, it is worth the effort! The first time I roasted the potatoes I grew and harvested, I couldn’t believe how crispy and crunchy they were. Mind you I was just roasting some potatoes, not trying to make fries and they came out almost as crunchy as a French fry. My friends now flock to our home for a potato palooza when it is time to harvest the potatoes!

Don’t throw your older or slightly soft potatoes away, there are a million things you can do with them. Just don’t use them to make baked French fries. Soft potatoes equal soft baked French fries.

basket of potatoes

Pick the Right Potato

I find all really fresh potatoes will crisp up beautifully in the oven, red skin, Yukon Gold or russet potatoes will all work. Yukon Gold and red potatoes are not good for deep fried French fries (or tater tots), but that is another blog. Without access to super fresh potatoes, you may want to stick to russet or Idaho potatoes. They have a high starch content and that starch equals ultra-crispy oven baked fries.

assorted potatoes photo

Soak the Potatoes Overnight

It is January in the Midwest right now so the chances of any of us having super fresh potatoes is slim. What will really crisp up our “pretty” fresh potatoes is to soak them in water overnight in the refrigerator. When you slice your potatoes, cover them in water and chill them, the potatoes crisp up beautifully, more like a super fresh potato.

soaking potatoes

Preheat Your Baking Pan

You can use any sheet pan or cast-iron pan to make your fries, but if you preheat the pan first, it helps to start the crisping as soon as it hits the pan. It also keeps the moisture in the potato. When we teach people how to sauté, we always suggest preheating the pan before you put the food in it to sear it. This works the same way in baking your fries. When you put the potato on the hot pan, it starts to brown within minutes because the moisture in the potato jumps away from the hot surface.

preheated pan

Don’t Overcrowd the Baking Pan

Make sure you don’t pile up the potatoes, there should be a little empty space between each potato. This lets the steam escape.

 

Ultra-Crispy Baked French Fries

Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe

Yield: Enough for Shelley (or 2 to 3 unglutinous people)

Prep Time: 24 hours

Hands on Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 to 25 minutes

 

1 pound of Russet potatoes, washed

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of fine salt (You can also use a flavored salt like garlic or truffle.)

1 1/2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil like avocado or canola)

Optional Seasoning: Try adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the following

  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Your favorite seasoning mixes. Check to see if it has salt, you may want to omit additional salt if your blend has salt as the first ingredient.
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh herbs like parsley or thyme can be tossed with the fries once they are cooked completely, if desired

potatoes with herbs

1. Sliced your washed potatoes in wedges, batons (traditional French fry shape) or slices. About ½ inch thick. Soak in cold water overnight. Do not cut the potatoes too thin or they can get limp.

2. Place a sheet pan or large cast iron pan on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees. If you are using cast iron let the pan remain in the oven for an additional 20 minutes to fully heat the pan before you put the potatoes on it.

3. Drain your potatoes and dry thoroughly with a clean paper towel.

4. Toss with salt, oil and desired seasonings.

5. Remove hot pan from the oven and place onto your stove top or other heat proof surface. Place potatoes onto pan making sure to keep a little open space between each fry.

6. Brown potatoes for 15 minutes on the first side or until crispy. Turn over and brown the second side for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until crispy and brown. Toss with fresh herbs if using.

finished fries

Serve with America’s favorite dipping sauce ketchup… or is it ranch, now? Or try a couple of new recipes like the ones below.

dipping fries

Curry Ketchup

Yield: approx. ½ cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

 

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon siracha

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

curry sauce

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

 

Frite Sauce

Yield: approx. ½ cup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

 

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sweet and hot mustard

1 tablespoons cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

frite sauce mix

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.

bar-2

During times like these, treating yourself to a simple and healthy pleasure can make an ordinary day into something special. Where we live, the bars are all closed so we made our own! We pulled a couple of stools up to the counter, poured a nice cold beer and ate our ultra-crispy fries. If you are looking for more fun, cooking secrets and essential techniques like cooking potatoes check out our virtual Building Block classes. This Saturday's class is all about potatoes and legumes! Register now for Saturday, January 23 at 10am CST. 

Register now

This week's challenge in our private Facebook group is all about potatoes too! Make a potato dish and share it with other home cooks. 

Potatoes Challenge

Join our Facebook Group

 

Yield: Enough for Shelley (or 2 to 3 unglutinous people)
Author: Shelley Young
Ultra-Crispy Baked French Fries

Ultra-Crispy Baked French Fries

Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 25 Mininactive time: 24 HourTotal time: 24 H & 35 M

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of Russet potatoes, washed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of fine salt (You can also use a flavored salt like garlic or truffle.)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil like avocado or canola)
  • Optional Seasonings: 
  • Try adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the following:
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Your favorite seasoning mixes. Check to see if it has salt, you may want to omit additional salt if your blend has salt as the first ingredient.
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh herbs like parsley or thyme can be tossed with the fries once they are cooked completely, if desired

Instructions

  1. Sliced your washed potatoes in wedges, batons (traditional French fry shape) or slices. About ½ inch thick. Soak in cold water overnight. Do not cut the potatoes too thin or they can get limp.
  2. Place a sheet pan or large cast iron pan on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees. If you are using cast iron let the pan remain in the oven for an additional 20 minutes to fully heat the pan before you put the potatoes on it.
  3. Drain your potatoes and dry thoroughly with a clean paper towel.
  4. Toss with salt, oil and desired seasonings.
  5. Remove hot pan from the oven and place onto your stove top or other heat proof surface. Place potatoes onto pan making sure to keep a little open space between each fry.
  6. Brown potatoes for 15 minutes on the first side or until crispy. Turn over and brown the second side for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until crispy and brown. Toss with fresh herbs if using.

Topics: healthy, healthy cooking, healthy eating, french fries, potatoes, Recipes, oven baked

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