Best Oven Fries

February 25, 2010 § 10 Comments

These fries are so wonderful – they are creamy on the inside and crispy-browned on the outside. I learned this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, from the very first copy of the magazine I held in my hands, given to me for my first Christmas in America by Jacob’s mom. This recipe is from the issue number sixty-six of January 2004. I make this dish a lot (scroll down to the bottom real quick to see how nice they look).

First, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

First you gonna need some potatoes. People at Cook’s deemed that Russet potatoes made the best fries, but I actually prefer the Yukon Golds, which I find sweeter, and a prettier color. The original recipe called for “3 large Russet potatoes,” but really, you can use as many as will fit into the pan and your appetite will handle. In this case, I am way at the bottom of my homegrown potato stash (literally, at the bottom of the bin), so I am down to real small ones – so this is how many I used. These are mostly Yukon Golds with a few Russets mixed in.

Cut your potatoes in half, then cut each half into three wedges, like this. I found this resulting size to be perfect for this recipe – you don’t want them too thin. I don’t peel them like I would back in the Old Country, because, you know, we are not in Kansas anymore, and for a good reason.

Now put them into a bowl and fill the bowl with very hot tap water, leaving them in the water for 10 min.

About the pan – the Cook’s article indicated specifically that this works best with a dark, non-stick, heavy-weight [jelly-roll] pan, which, they claimed, would result in the evenly browned fries. This is what I have here – and the potatoes do indeed come out perfect. You might find it a bit unsightly, as it’s been banged up somewhat from years and years of use. Note that I generally try to stay away from non-stick (I still use non-stick baking pans though), but, in this case, possible adverse health effects are by far overridden by the heavenly flavor of these potatoes. I mean, life is short, no matter what you do. Might as well enjoy it.

Now drizzle the pan with 4 T of vegetable oil (as always, I use exclusively the Driftless Organics sunflower oil, but I’ve made them with the supermarket kind for years).

I realize the photography is particularly poor in the case of this cooking session – that’s because I was in a hurry to actually put the food on the table before the actual family in time for supper, which I did.

Tilt the pan slightly in every direction to coat.

Now sprinkle the pan with 3/4 t of salt and 1/4 t of pepper. This will now be pretty salty – you may opt to use less if you prefer. These measurements are for table salt, not sea salt, which is sharper and you’d want to use less of it, I think.

Drain the potatoes and dry them well with paper towels (though I just use a clean kitchen towel).

Wipe the bowl dry, return the now-dry potatoes to the bowl, and toss with 1 T of oil until well-coated.

Spread them on a baking sheet.

Cover the baking sheet tightly with the aluminum foil, place it in the oven, and set the timer for 5 min. Remove the foil after 5 min, and continue cooking for another 10-20 min (depending on the heat of your oven), or until pleasantly browned on the bottom and starting to get brown spots on top.

Half of the potatoes in this picture have been flipped.

When they reach that point, take the sheet out of the oven and flip each piece (here’s where the labor intensive part comes in) using small tongs or two forks or a fork and a spoon or magic spells.

Return to the oven for the additional 5 to 10 min, or until brown on top. Remove to a platter lined with several layers of paper towels. Consume ASAP.

Best Oven Fries

Source: Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Issue # 66 of January 2004

  • Several potatoes, cut into wedges by first halving your potato, then slicing each half into three wedges
  • 5 T vegetable oil (not olive)
  • 3/4 t table salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Place the potato wedges into a large bowl and cover with very hot tap water. Let sit for 10 min. Coat a heavy jelly-roll/baking pan with 4 T of oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drain the potatoes and dry completely with paper towels or a kitchen towel. Wipe the bowl dry, return the potatoes to the bowl, and add the remaining T of oil, tossing until the potatoes are well-coated. Place the potatoes in neat, elegant rows onto the baking sheet and cover the sheet tightly with aluminum foil. Set the timer for 5 min. Remove the foil after 5 min, and cook for the additional 10 to 20 min, or until the potatoes are brown on the bottom and spotted brown on top. Flip the potatoes, and continue cooking for 5 to 10 min more, or until browned on the second side. Remove to a platter lined with several layers of paper towels, and serve immediately.

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§ 10 Responses to Best Oven Fries

  • Mel says:

    These look delicious! I make oven fries in a similar way but parboil the fries for about 4-5 minutes on a gentle simmer. Then drain them in a colander letting them steam dry. When they’re dry give them a vigourous shake to fluff up the edges (sometimes I put in a spoonful of semolina flour if I have it to add a bit of sweetness) which makes them extra crispy. I preheat the fat in the oven so that the fries hit hot oil making them less greasy. The best fat is definitely duck fat, but I’ve had great results with beef or pork fat, or just plain olive oil. Makes me hungry just thinking about them!

  • leaannbrown says:

    Thanks for this post. This all makes sense for some great fries. Bookmarking this one.

  • julia says:

    I love oven fries–they’re so much better than French fries, for me. And they’re awesome with ketchup.

  • Jules says:

    It is so hard to take the time to look up how others make some of the basic foods we eat, no? I finally decided to take a look at how you make your delicious potatoes and sure enough, they were fantastic on the first try. Thanks for posting some basic recipes…

    • Sofya says:

      That’s great to hear! I remember when I first moved here in 2003, and started to live on my own, trying to learn how to cook with the tools and ingredients available here, I felt frustrated with so many cookbooks because I was trying to find some basic, straightforward recipes for things, rather than fancier ones. For instance, I didn’t need to know how to make a yogurt-bone-in chicken kiev, I just wanted the basic chicken Kiev (and so on).

  • Sofya says:

    There’s another similar (and tasty) version of oven fries from another blog, Smitten Kitchen, that I use now a lot (except I do flip the fries half-way through, like in the above recipe – something that the Smitten Kitchen doesn’t tell you to do):
    These are actually even easier and they are nicely seasoned.

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