Winter time is potato time for me. The starch of the potatoes is the perfect healthy carb to fuel me through the cold temperatures, and keep all my sweet cravings away. If I could, I would probably eat french fries every day. It’s a very New Zealand thing of me to do, where every meal is served with fries on the side. Baking the fries is a much healthier option, but what a challenge it can be! They turn out too dry and raw, too soggy and moist or completely burn into ashes. Reaching that point where they are just perfect to remind you of actual fried fries with a crispy outside and a soft, well cooked inside seems harder to get right than that beautiful push up during your last workout. Don't worry, here are some simple tricks to get the perfect fries every time!
1. Soaking makes all the difference!
It takes away the starch that naturally occurs in potatoes. By soaking your cut potatoes in cold water for 10 minutes, most of this starch will wash off. Make sure after soaking you rinse and pat them dry.
2. A little oil goes a long way!
While you may think that adding more oil will get your fries crispier, you are actually creating a soggy mess. Be frugal with your oil, 1 - 2 Tbsp will give you all the crispiness and taste you are looking for.
3. Use salt sparingly before the fries go in the oven!
While the salt can help to drag out excess moisture and get your fries extra crispy, you want to make sure you use it sparingly. Too much salt may hold the extra water around your fries and actually inhibit them from getting crispy. It's better to salt them once they come out of the oven. Plus, this way you need less salt in general! The salty taste cooks away so it's always better to add salt right in the end. You will never have to think about too much salt in your diet again that way!
Chopping and soaking time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
Total preparation time: 1 hour
Makes 2 servings:
3 medium sized potatoes (each about a the size of your hand)
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of sea salt + more for later
½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 220ºC/ 450ºF and place a paper baking sheet on a baking tray.
Scrub the potatoes well if you like to leave the skin on, otherwise peel them. Then cut them into thin sticks.
Fill a bowl with cold water (does not have to be fridge temperature) and place the potato sticks in the water for 10 minutes. You will see the water turning cloudy, this is the starch coming off. After the 10 minutes rinse the potatoes under running water for 30 seconds, then pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
Return the potato sticks to the bowl (make sure it's dry), add the oil, a pinch of salt and mix well to make sure all the sticks are coated. Transfer to the baking tray and spread them out evenly. Try to avoid stacked sticks, they bake more evenly if each of them has a separate spot.
Place in oven for 20 minutes, then flip the fries. This is crucial to get them evenly crispy. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
After the total 40 minutes you will want to check the fries. Every oven is different so I won't be able to give you an exact time formula here. You want to make sure the fries are evenly browned. Just take one and do a taste test. If you feel they are still too soft, put them back in for another 5 minutes, then they should be good.
As they come right out of the oven add some extra salt and garlic powder. This will add to the crunchiness and taste.