I have a culinary confession to make, and I might as well just get it off my chest: I’m a sucker for fries.
Thick, thin, crinkled or in wonderful fat wedges, there is just something magical and comforting about potatoes that have been deep-fried in oil. Of course, the very thing that makes them so tasty – being deep-fried in oil – also makes them much more fattening than their baked-potato cousin. I always feel a tinge of guilt and an obligation to go to the gym after ordering a batch.
Luckily I have found a happy medium between the plain-jane baked potato and that oh-so-tempting, fat-infused order of French fries, one that packs more taste than the former and less fat than the latter. Let me introduce you to my oven-baked potato fries.
Like traditional French fries, this oven-baked version can be in the form of thin strips or larger wedges, depending on your preference and how handy you’re feeling with a knife. Also like French fries, the best potatoes for this are good old Russet, or Idaho potatoes, which have a higher starch content versus smaller “waxy” spuds like new potatoes or fingerlings.
I prefer mine with the skin on, but of course they can be peeled if you like yours naked.
To make them, you only need to slice some potatoes, coat them with oil and a blend of spices, then let the oven do the hard work of generating the heat. Cooking time will depend on how you like your fries: If you dig ’em soft, you need only cook them till they are that way; if you’re like me and want some crunch, let ’em keep baking until they get crisp on the outside.
All told, you’ll be looking at anywhere from 25-40 minutes in the oven. While that isn’t nearly as quick as deep frying, the results are worth it, and less fat now means less time at the gym later.
Ready to give this a whirl? Here’s how to make a less guilty version of fries:
- 2 large Russet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Music to make it by: Let’s rock out with Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown
Step 1: Grab a baking pan, put it in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. You can even use a toaster oven for this, as I’m doing above.
Step 2: While the oven heats, cut the potatoes into wedges or strips. Wedges are easiest, so if you’re a kitchen newbie, try this shape first. And if you’re going with skin on, be sure to scrub and dry well before cutting.
Step 3: Put the cut potatoes into a large bowl and coat well with the oil. Now coat the potatoes with the rest of the ingredients. I’m particularly fond of oregano and paprika on my fries and go quite liberally on these two. Use as much or as little as you want, and feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices like rosemary or cayenne powder.
Step 4: When the oven hits its 425 mark, grab the pan with an oven mitt and slide the wedges onto it. If all goes right, you should hear a nice sizzle. Spread the potato pieces as much as possible so they don’t crowd each other.
Step 5: All that’s left is to let the potatoes cook in the oven for 25-40 minutes or until they are to your liking. Halfway through the cooking, carefully turn the potatoes on the pan. Test for doneness by trying one – this will also allow you to sneak in a few bites while on the job.
Congratulations: You’ve just made a tasty alternative to deep-fried French fries. Serve with ketchup, ranch dressing or your choice of dip, and enjoy these with your lunch or dinner. I like to serve mine gastro-pub style, presented with a shot glass filled with ketchup and garnished with parsley. Remember: We eat first with our eyes.
If there are leftovers, cut them up and use them for breakfast the next day – they go great with eggs and can help stuff a breakfast burrito.
Did you try this recipe? Share your results or any tips in the comments area below. Want to learn how to make it in person? Click HERE for info on a private cooking lesson.