Monday, October 17, 2011

Oven Baked Fries

This recipe comes straight from the experts at Cook’s Illustrated.  I have been making potato wedge fries in the oven using this method for years and I am thankful that they did all the homework for me in Americas Test Kitchen.  This recipe makes fries that have a creamy center with a nice surface crunch.  Eliminating the unwelcomed pot of oil that splatters all over the kitchen leaving yet another level of clean up to go along with the unpleasant question, “Now what do I do with all that oil”?

The trick to these fries is in the hot water soak which removes some of the starch and surface sugars that prevent the potato from getting a nice crunch.  The soaking process also has an added bonus, the potato wedges will not discolor once they have been soaked.  So you can let them sit on the paper towels to dry until you are ready to place them in the oven.  The second trick is in the 5 minute steam which allows the potatoes to cook all the way through before the browning begins.

I take a short cut from the original recipe and place all the oil in the pan and coat both sides of my potatoes before covering with foil.  I also prep these ahead of time and let them sit around until I am about 30 minutes away from wanting them to be done.  I think this step prevents the potatoes from sticking to the pan, making it easier to flip.  Giving me free time to do other things…

My husband thinks that these potatoes are as good as they get and that’s all  the approval that I need to keep on making them. Make sure that you take the time to line them up in a single layer so they brown evenly.
3              large      russet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), cut into long wedges
5              Tbsp.     oil, canola, vegetable or peanut
¾             tsp.        kosher salt
¼             tsp.        black pepper

Place oil in a heavy duty 18 X 12 sheet pan with sides.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over oil and set aside.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then into quarters.  Slice each quarter into two slices.  You should get about 8 potato wedges per potato.  Try to cut them as evenly as possible so they will all cook at the same time.

Place the potato wedges in a bowl and fill it with hot tap water to completely cover the potatoes and let sit for 30 minutes.  Drain and place on paper towels to dry.

Take one of your potato wedges and use it to mix and spread out the oil, salt and pepper evenly on the sheet pan.  Then coat both sides of each potato wedge in the oil by rubbing it over the sheet pan, then flipping it to coat and season the other side.  Line potatoes in a single layer on the pan and cover tightly with foil. 

***AT THIS POINT YOU CAN LET IT SIT UNTIL YOU ARE ABOUT 30 MINUTES FROM WHEN YOU WANT YOUR FRIES DONE.  I get my fries ready ahead of time to this point so I have one less thing to prep.


Place your rack on the lowest shelf and preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

Bake for 5 minutes, remove foil and continue to bake for another 15 – 20 min. or until the bottom of the potatoes are spotty golden brown.

Using a metal spatula and tong, flip each potato wedge keeping them in a single layer.  Return to the oven and bake for another 5 min. or until they are golden and crisp.  Rotate pan for even browning.

Transfer cooked potato wedges to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Sprinkle with a pinch or two of kosher salt before serving.

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