Crispy (!) Oven Baked Fries

You know what I love? (Other than bacon and goat cheese and puppies, obviously.) Potatoes.

I didn’t always. I still have flashbacks to the day my Mom first took us to Boston Market (which at the time was called Boston Chicken). First off, we thought it was in Boston. Despite the fact that we lived in Pittsburgh and it was already dinner time. So why we thought Mom was driving us to Boston… kid logic.

We got our rotisserie chicken and a whole smorgasbord  of sides and went home to dig in. I was offered mashed potatoes, which I happily accepted. The first bite was lumpy. I refused additional bites.

Texture, my friends, is important. Especially to weirdos like me. Lumpy mashed potatoes were just inedible to my youthful palette (I like to think that I’ve grown since then, but I still don’t eat Jello or bananas for textural reasons).

Knowing my parents, I’m sure I finished them. Otherwise, no dessert. And dessert was probably those BM cinnamon sugar apples. And no one doesn’t like those cinnamon sugar apples. Right?

So, I was a bit scarred from the lumpy mashed potato experience. Even today, my mashed potatoes are nice and smooth – though I can and do enjoy lumpy ones (without complaint) if offered. (Sometimes I actually like them, much to the chagrin of 7-year-old me.)

But I digress. This post isn’t about mashed potatoes, just the starchy veggie in general. Perhaps best known for the french fried variety. Of course, french fried potatoes are not particularly healthy (taking something not that good for you in the first place and dipping it in hot oil a few times doesn’t create a health food?!). So, to the oven we go.

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Now. I’ve made A LOT of different oven baked fry recipes over the years. And they all have the same problem. Mush city. Part of the appeal of french fries is the crunch you get while eating them (and the salt, of course). My oven baked version was just never as good until I learned the secret.

Soak those bad boys in water first!

You can soak them for an hour or two, or way less, like I do. Usually, I soak them for about as long as it takes the oven to heat up to 475 (mine takes a few minutes). When you’re ready to bake, drain the water, dry them off, and you’ll be in crispy fry heaven.

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These little wedges can’t wait to become fries.

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Olive oil, salt and pepper in the pan. Salt and pepper on top. Plus more salt for luck.

The baking process is a bit time consuming. I start them in the oven covered for 5 minutes or so, then reduce the heat by 50 degrees, remove the cover and bake for about 15 minutes.

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The wedges should be starting to get opaque (see my attempt at capturing this effect above) and the bottoms should be starting to brown. Flip em over and give them another 10-15 minutes.

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They taste as crispy as they look.

Serve these HOT with whatever toppings you like. Pro tip: don’t pile them all in a bowl, or they will quickly get soggy (the evil mush returns). I like to drain mine in one layer on a paper towel-lined plate and then serve each individual.

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