Good homemade french fries are elusive. If you don’t have a chip pan (a pot reserved for fat specifically to cook fries in) or a deep fat frier (which I refuse to get for the sake of my waistline), getting a potato to be crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle is a challenge. Thankfully, I have cracked the mystery and am here to share it!
Once I discovered this method of cooking potatoes, I have been whipping up at least two batches of oven fries a week. I know that sounds super unhealthy, but you don’t actually need much oil. In fact, I use at least twice the amount of oil to make sautés and probably at least as much fat in butter for mashed potatoes.
Now that I have justified my (and soon to be your) new found oven fry addiction, I can start describing their many merits. First of all, the favouring is incredibly versatile. You could cook the fries with some rosemary and crushed garlic or go a spicy route by springing on some paprika and cayenne pepper. In the photos, I have slathered half of the fries with grated cheese to make the pub favourite ‘cheesy chips’. If plain fries are more your thing, you can go to town with dips and sauces. I’m thinking aioli mayonnaise (if you’re feeling conservative) or a curry dipping sauce. Heck, you could even use sweet potatoes and do all of the above at the same time. Secondly, they are really easy to cook. Basically, you pop them in the oven, go do something, give them a toss, go do something else, toss them one last time, go do something else and then eat them. I find flipping the fries fits perfectly into commercial breaks or chatting with guests. Thirdly, everyone likes fries and they are easy mass produce to feed a crowd. If you are having picky eaters (aka kids) over or have to feed a crowd, oven fries are one of the easiest things to make because you can have the potatoes part boiled and all set to go before your guests start to arrive. Plus, the cooking time is pretty relaxed. Nothing bad is going to happen if you have to take the fries out of the oven 5 minutes early or late. Fourthly, fries go with anything! Steak? Yup! Omelette? Yup! Roast chicken? Yup! I could go on…
As you can see, I am pretty waxing lyrical about these oven fries. Try them, and I’m sure you will be too.
- 2 kg potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Put a big pot of salted water onto boil.
- As the water is heating, scrub the potatoes. I like leaving the skins on because a) its yummy and b) it means I don’t have to peel the potatoes.
- Cut the potatoes into fries. The potatoes will shrink a little as they cook so err on the slightly larger side.
- Hopefully by now the water will have started to boil. Boil the potatoes for 7 minutes. You don’t want the potatoes to cook. All you want to do is get the cooking started to make the inside of each fry nice and fluffy.
- Drain the potatoes and leave to air dry.
- Preheat your oven to 425F (220C). You don’t want to convection bake: having extra heat coming from the grill at the top of the oven will help the fries crisp up.
- Line one (or two) large trays with aluminum foil. The brown crunchy bits won’t stick to the foil and it makes clean up much easier. You don’t want to overcrowd the potatoes (if you do, they will end up steaming and won’t get crunchy) so if you think one tray might not be big enough, go for two.
- Measure the oils out into the baking tray(s). You don’t need much oil, you just need enough to coat the bottom of the trays when the oil is hot. Remember oil thins and will go farther when hot.
- Place the oiled, lined baking tray into the preheating oven for the oil to heat up.
- Once the oil is hot (about 5 minutes), take the tray out of the oven and scatter in the air-dried fries. The preheated oil will help the fries crisp. Plus, you get that satisfying sizzling noise when you add the potatoes.
- Generously salt and pepper the fries.
- Transfer the tray(s) back into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Toss the fries and bake for another 15 minutes. Note, this is the stage I took the slightly browned fries photo at.
- Toss the fries and bake for a final 15 minutes. At this point, the fries may not look like they need more time, but it is amazing how long it takes for potatoes to burn. To get crispy fries, you really want to keep them in there for as long as you can.
- Serve hot!