Is it possible to get the taste of real french fries in the oven? Yes, as long as you have one ingredient that you don’t skimp on: Olive oil. Now, hear me out. I know that you think that the whole purpose of baking in the oven is to make your fries low fat, but why? Why would you take away the fried flavor when what you are taking away is one of the healthiest things you can eat. So many of us were brought up with a false assumption that fat was bad for us, yet people in the Mediterranean eat copious amounts of fat mostly in the form of extra virgin olive oil and they are the healthiest people in the world. They don’t fry with it though, do they?
Of course they do! As a matter of fact, they fry french fries in extra virgin olive oil. Studies have shown extra virgin olive oil is actually the best olive oil to fry in. What about the low smoking point of olive oil? A recent study showed that even frying olive oil to the smoking point is fine. Still, I try to stay below the smoking point. Baking in the oven is a great way to do that.
The reason I use the oven to make real, super delicious french fries is that it’s easier than frying on the stovetop. Simply preheat your oven, cut the potatoes, mix all the herbs and olive oil in a bowl with said potatoes, place on a sheet pan and come back in 30-35 minutes to a finished product. When you fry on the stove top you have to be watching pretty carefully the whole time. Baking makes everything easy.
These fries are made all the tastier by adding Herbs de Provence, a mixture of herbs from Southern France. Herbs de Provence is super easy to make on its own. Here is a link to the recipe. If you don’t have all the herbs to make Herbs de Provence, don’t fret, just use a mixture of the ones you do have.
A few tricks to ensure the success of this recipe:
Use the recommended amount of extra virgin olive oil. Don’t be afraid!
Make sure the potatoes are completely coated in oil and herbs.
Roast the potatoes in a roasting pan big enough so their is only one layer of potatoes. This helps them roast and caramelize.
Don’t take the potatoes out too soon! Make sure they are brown and crispy on the outside.
When you pour the potatoes in the bowl for the coating of parmesan cheese add any of the oil from the pan onto the potatoes. This will help the cheese stick to the potatoes and will increase it’s deliciousness factor.
Eat right away! They are best when steaming hot from the oven. Don’t burn your mouth or anything, but eat them as soon as you can.
Cut the potatoes into small french fries, but not too small. I usually get 8-10 fries out of one medium sized potato. You want them to be big enough so you have some nice tender potato in the middle when you are done.
Add potatoes to a bowl along with olive oil, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Mix well until all the potatoes are evenly coated. Pour potatoes in a single layer on a sheet pan keeping the bowl for later. Put sheet pan on middle rack in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are brown and starting to crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
Remove from oven and pour potatoes back into the bowl (along with any remaining oil on the sheet pan.) Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and mix well. Serve immediately.