Because no single way of eating works for everybody.
Many years ago, as a teenager getting my mother completely hooked on French fries and gravy, I came to a conclusion. The true, irresistible addiction, the one that spans generations and nations and languages and cultures, isn’t tobacco or alcohol or cocaine or heroin or video or gambling or even sex.
It’s fried potatoes.
And no matter how much healthy eating you’re doing, you may occasionally crave a hit of the good stuff.
So why not do it in as natural, healthy, non-processed a way as possible? I asked myself that yesterday, when I experienced a (now mercifully rare) burning desire for fries. If you go out to get them, they might contain lactose or sugar or artificial flavours – they often do – and be fried in an oil you’d rather not eat. If you buy the frozen ones they may or may not have preservatives or additives – but they’re pre-fried, so the same concerns apply to the oil. And, well, they’re not fresh. But most recipes for home-baked fries leave me cold – the results are dry spud-sticks that don’t crunch, or soggy ones, ditto. If I’d wanted mashed potatoes, I’d have made mashed potatoes.
Also, I don’t deep-fry, because of the experience of my next-door neighbour, whose house was gutted due to a deep-fat fire. So none of that.
Well, after some chasing-around on the Internet, I found the recipe I wanted. I made these fries, and they were, in a word, fantastic. They are the creation of an Instructibles blogger whose pen-name is “scoochmaroo”. She says she’s “just a girl who likes to make stuff”. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a silver-plated genius.
Here is her recipe for Crispy Oven Baked French Fries. They are so crunchy, fresh and delicious that they’re even good cold. They’re even good as – for heaven’s sakes – microwaved leftovers! Crispy, crunch, microwaved leftovers. It’s a concept I’ve never imagined before.
The secret of these amazing fries is two-fold: One, nuke them first to cook the insides and make them fluffy; and Two, pre-heat the oil in the baking sheet. Before baking they are, Three, tossed with a mixture of oil, salt, and cornstarch – you can leave out the cornstarch if you object to it, but it really helps with the crunchiness. I have another secret, Four, which is to use baking parchment in the pan; makes the cleanup a thousand times easier. I also made them with coconut oil, rather than canola or sunflower or any of those processed-seed oils, because as far as I can tell, coconut oil is actually pretty good for you.
As one of the comments on the recipe says, don’t use any more oil than is called for, or they’ll come out greasy. And I didn’t put plastic wrap over the bowl of potatoes; I just used a plate. I also found that trying to cool them on paper towels after the microwaving process didn’t work for me, because the surface starch stuck to the paper. So I put them in a colander instead. Your mileage may vary.
Next time you must succumb to the Universal Fried Potato Addiction, I highly recommend that you make a batch of these. You may never go back to eating pre-processed fries with additives and weird oils in them, and that is one small step toward better eating.
(And yeah, we crazy Canadians often put gravy on our fries. You should try it! 🙂 )