Chef Mitch here!
I’m a little ashamed to admit how quickly a desperate french fry craving set in after we started quarantining. I miss a lot about my pre-quarantine life–family, friends, freedom–but it’s the lack of French fries that hit first.
So I decided to do something about it.
French fries are my favorite food and I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur. In my opinion, the perfect fry is skin-on, thinly sliced, and crispy on the bite with a pang of heavy salt on the finish. It seems simple enough but it’s shocking how many places get the equation wrong and end up serving crinkly cut, soggy, bland potato mush nonsense that needs a bath of globby ketchup to redeem itself.
In my younger and less house arresty days, I’d drag the family out for fries a couple times a week. (Remember restaurants? Wasn’t that fun?) Let’s be serious: I’d go for a side of fries with any order… but some of the best meals are:
- Salad with a side of fries
- Soup with a side of fries for dipping
- Fries with a side of fries for later
Life pro tip: Substitute french fries for hash browns at breakfast and never look back.
So, like the rest of you, I now find myself at home with a lack of fries and a little spare time. I’m not sure why I’d never figured this out before but making quality fries at home is actually super simple. And I’m not talking about frozen fries or that “home fries” garbage they push at brunch. These fries are restaurant-quality and easy to make, and they require no specialty frying or slicing equipment. (Kelly and I decided not to buy a fryer for the sake of my lifespan.)
Crispy Oven French Fries
The process is simple enough. To start, grab three or four potatoes and slice them up. It’s a little startling to realize that I’d been eating three or four potatoes per meal all these years, but whatever; the world is ending. The thickness of the resulting fry is up to you, but I usually aim for a McDonald’s fry sort of look. (Btw: I recently got a new set of knives from Material and the difference a quality knife makes in the kitchen is astonishing. Our old set of knives were over 10 years old and the handles were starting to fall off.)
The key to a crispy home cut fry is to soak your sliced potatoes in water for an hour before roasting them. This process removes excess starch which, apparently, brings on the crisp.
After soaking, drain the water, dry the potato sticks and place them on a cooking sheet. Drizzle oil over the fries and season to taste. I typically go with a simple salt and pepper mix here. Just make sure you don’t under-season the fries. Have you ever seen how much salt they put fries at McDonald’s? Be like that. Drown those things in salt.
I use a countertop convection roasting oven set to 425 degrees. The process takes about 30 minutes or a little longer, depending on the thickness of fry, and I pull the pan out to flip and mix the fries a few times throughout. Toward the end, you may need to remove some of the smaller fries to prevent burning.
The resulting fries are great on their own but it’s worth mentioning that there are some fun dips that can be whipped up from the condiments in your fridge. Garlic aioli, spicy barbecue sauce, honey mustard… the options extend well beyond ketchup here. Get creative!
- 3-4 large potatoes
- Slice potatoes to preferred thickness. Try to make them a uniform size.
- Soak potato sticks in cold water for at least an hour
- Drain water and pat potatoes dry
- Place potatoes on cooking sheet
- Drizzle oil across the pan and season with salt and pepper
- Roast at 425 degrees for at least 30 minutes while flipping fries throughout
Chef Mitch. OUT!