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.

IMG_0544.JPG

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.

IMG_0545.JPG

These little wedges can’t wait to become fries.

IMG_0546.JPG

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.

IMG_0547.JPG

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.

IMG_0558.JPG

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.

crispy-oven-baked-fries

 

Dijon Maple Chicken + Brussels Sprouts Salad

Welcome to January, month of the New Year’s Resolution. Followed quickly by February, month of abandoning the New Year’s Resolution. I don’t have a specific resolution this year, but after two months of holiday indulgences (a nice way to say “eating and drinking my way from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day”), I definitely needed a bit of a detox.

Now, my idea of detoxing does not involve juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, lemon juice or any other vaguely gross and really unhealthy suggestions found on Pinterest. I just figured I should eat some more veggies. Other than potatoes.

IMG_0479.JPG

Enter brussels sprouts.

In related news, I recently learned that it’s brusselS sprouts not brussel sprouts and it kind of blew my mind. Like when Lorelai Gilmore found out that the correct plural pronunciation of cul-de-sac is culs-de-sac. (It just sounds wrong!)

Anywho, it seemed like brussels sprouts and chicken would be a great antidote to weeks of cookies and carbs, so I decided to try a play on the salad I made for Thanksgiving.

IMG_0482.JPG

The absolute worst part of brussels sprouts… cleaning and cutting them. First tear off all the outside leaves, then shred each sprout down to the nub. Toss the nub. Repeat. For an entire bag of sprouts. This was by far the most time consuming part of this otherwise really easy salad.

IMG_0484.JPG

Once the sprouts were shredded, I started on the chicken. I used thighs, it’s what I had on hand. I’m sure breasts would be good as well. I just trimmed a little fat and sprinkled each side with salt and pepper before tossing in my nice, hot, olive oil-coated cast iron skillet. Once in the skilled I brushed each piece with my chicken sauce. It would have been good as a marinade too, if I had started earlier and wasn’t too hungry to wait for marinade at this point.

IMG_0485.JPGWhile those bad boys cooked, back to the salad I went. Shredded brussels sprouts, meet pears and a dijon vinaigrette.

IMG_0487.JPG

I tossed everything together with my (clean) hands and topped with some goat cheese, cinnamon sugar pecans and the chicken.

IMG_0492.JPG

I enjoyed this so much, I’ve actually made it twice since the New Year. Delicious.

dijon-maple-chicken-brussels-sprouts-salad