I have a dirty little secret that I have been keeping from you guys. I am not proud of it. But… I have a love for french fries that cannot be tamed. There, it is finally out and in the open.
I know, I know – I eat so healthy, I carry on about how important it is to eat your greens, blah blah. I don’t care, we all have our vices and I love fries!! No one can ever take that away from me. Everything in moderation, right?
That said, having a gluten intolerance means that many times eating fries at a restaurant is out of the question, whether because the fries are coated in some sort of flour starch or because they are cooked in a shared frier, doused in denatured, hydrogenated vegetable oils. Regardless of the gluten intolerance, I also prefer to not eat foods that have been cooked in poisonous oils that also cooked battered or breaded foods. Most fries are. It sucks.
Besides that fact, we all know what makes the fries so darn tasty and addicting, it’s the fact that they take a nice long, deep swim in a huge vat of oil. Fat makes us happy. But it’s important that we are eating the right fats and oils.
OK, so the honest truth is that I generally try to keep this addiction in check, I don’t eat fries nearly as often as I would like to. But, if you have been reading this blog for sometime, you know that I truly believe in moderation. With the exception of the foods that are just not good even in moderation, the make me physically ill or that I know are really, really bad for me – I do like to indulge on occasion and eat those certain special foods that are reserved for very special rare occasions. I think this is important part of allowing myself to eat this way.
Recently, I decided that there had to be a way for me to make my coveted fries at home, to fulfill that craving when it pops up, but making them in the oven instead – in hopes of making them just a wee bit healthier. I also like the idea that by making them at home, I had the option of selecting organic potatoes, which is something I always buy for cooking at home, since potatoes are always at the top of the list for the Dirty Dozen (the most contaminated fruits and vegetables).
These baked fries are super simple to make and I promise you, they will outshine any fries you can get anywhere else, even your favorite local hangout. They have the crispy outside and soft inside of their deep fried pals, but without the excessing grease. My favorite part is, since they aren’t deep fried, they don’t start to get soft and soggy as they cool off. They stay nice and crunchy, even when they are totally cooled.
The secrets to these incredible fries are a couple of things, the main one being soaking the raw potatoes before you bake them to remove some of the excess starch. I have also found that parchment paper is key in keeping the fries from sticking and getting the best crisp on the outside while keeping a soft inside. Foil won’t do it, I tried.
Give this simple tutorial a try and keep in mind you can play around with herbs and spices, add garlic powder or minced garlic, creole seasoning, chile powder, cayenne and so on. You could go really crazy and add some homemade chili and maybe some cheese or your favorite vegan cheese and really indulge. If you are wanting something really special and super simple to make while these are baking, rather than the usual ketchup, check out the recipe at the bottom of this post for my homemade Spicy Garlic Aioli, that is perfect for dipping.
How-to Make Perfect French Fries
**Baked not Fried**
1) Scrub your organic potatoes really well, especially if you are leaving the skins on. Cut the potatoes into even sticks, whatever size you prefer. Do so by hand, with the julienne setting on a mandoline slicer (which is what I do) or one of these fancy things.
2) Add the fries to a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for at least 30 minutes but as long as overnight. Drain and rinse the fries and lay them on a paper towel lined cooling rack to dry. Blot the tops with additional paper towels to grab any excess moisture.
3) Line a baking pan with parchment paper and evenly coat that with 2 tablespoons of oil (see my notes below on how to select an appropriate oil). Add the potatoes to large bowl, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of oil and a little sea salt and pepper. Toss around to mix. Evenly line the baking pan with the fries in a single layer. Don’t overlap or they fries won’t cook properly. Bake at 475ºF for approximately 35 minutes, tossing around once or twice at around 15 minutes of cooking. Remove from the oven when they are brown and crispy to your liking.
[print_this]The Perfect French Fries (gluten-free and vegan)
serves 2 to 4
- 2 lbs organic russet potatoes (russet are the best choice for perfect crispy fries)
- 3-4 tablespoons stable high-heat appropriate oil*
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Garlic or onion powder, fresh garlic, chile powder, cajun seasonings, smoked paprika, cumin, Italian seasonings and more.
1) Wash and scrub the potatoes, especially if you are leaving the skins on. Which I recommend. Cut the potatoes into even sticks. Do so by hand, with the julienne setting on a mandoline slicer (which is what I do) or one of these fancy things.
2) Add the fries to a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes but they can soak for as long as overnight. (Place in the fridge if soaking more than an hour). After they have soaked, drain and rinse the fries and lay them on a paper towel lined cooling rack to dry while you preheat the oven to 475ºF. Blot the tops with additional paper towels to grab any excess moisture.
3) Line a baking pan with parchment paper and evenly coat that with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the potatoes to a dry bowl, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of oil and a little sea salt and pepper. Toss around to mix. Evenly line the baking pan with the fries in a single layer. Don’t overlap or they fries won’t cook properly. Bake at 475 for approximately 35 minutes, tossing around once or twice after 15 minutes of cooking. Remove from the oven when they are brown and crispy to your liking.
Serve immediately with your favorite seasonings and your favorite dipping sauce(s). Try my Spicy Garlic Aioli below.
Notes: You want to select an oil that is meant for high heat cooking. Oils that are dominated by saturated fat are the most stable for high heat cooking, monounsaturated oils suited for high heat cooking are moderately stable and polyunsaturated dominant fats are highly unstable and should be avoided when cooking at all. I suggest ghee, lard, tallow, coconut oil or duck fat, etc. Avocado oil is OK, but not as good of an option and vegetable oils like canola, soybean, grapeseed oil, etc – these should be avoided.
BONUS: You can also also make sweet potato fries this way, too. They also turn out crispy and delicious.
[print_this]Spicy Garlic Aioli (gluten-free and dairy-free)
makes about 2 cups
- 1 large egg* (I used fresh brown eggs from our CSA farmer)
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 – 1 cup olive oil
- pinch or two of ground cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon each, sea salt and cracked black pepper
Place the egg, egg yolk, garlic and lemon juice in the food processor. (You can make it by hand, but it is much easier and more fail-safe in the food processor.) While it is blending, slowly drizzle in the oil, until it is thick and creamy. Add the cayenne pepper, sea salt and pepper.
Did you add the oil too fast? If you add the oil too fast, the aioli will separate, so go very slowly. If it does separate, take the mixture out of the food processor, saving the separated aioli, and start over. Put another egg and egg yolk into the food processor and blend them. Slowly, slowly add the separated aioli. That should do the trick.
This more than what you need for these fries but great for sandwiches and such, too
**If you don’t want to eat raw eggs – skip the eggs and the oil and 1 cup of your favorite mayo instead. Yours will not have this bright yellow color, which comes from the yolks on our beautiful farm fresh eggs. If you are vegan, substitute your favorite vegan mayo instead. [/print_this]