Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oven-fried (Herbed) Potatoes

Oven-fried (Herbed) Potatoes - made November 14, 2010 from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher (Book #10)

Many years ago, I read Fast Food Nation and watched Supersize Me in the same timeframe.  Needless to say, it put me off fast food almost permanently.  I went from having it once or twice every couple of weeks to once or twice a year, if that.  It's not that I really enjoyed fast food itself but the convenience couldn't be beat, especially since you can't turn the corner without tripping over a MacDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Carl's Jr, Jack in the Box - well, you get the picture.  One thing I do miss from having given up fast food though are french fries.  You know the kind I mean: crisp on the outside, mealy inside.  Yes, they're bad for you.  Yes, they're good. 

My coworkers at my first job after college used to make fun of me for blotting each individual fry with a napkin to absorb some of the grease.  I liked the crunch.  But I didn't like the grease.So oven-fried potatoes seem like a good way to go.  This recipe is from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher.  In the section with this recipe, Shirley explains the benefits of chilling the potatoes ahead of time because it helps the starch turn into sugars which help with the crunchiness in baking.  I was just glad this recipe both forced me to use my steamer that I've had for a couple of years and never used and gave me a chance to have "french fries" again.

I put the "herbed" part in parentheses in the title because I didn't follow the recipe exactly.  I had gotten the potatoes last week and have had them in my refrigerator for 7 days instead of overnight like I had originally planned because I kept forgetting to buy rosemary and Parmesan cheese.  I gave up on remembering and decided to make these as plain home fries without the herb and cheese.  They turned out pretty well that way.  Because I tossed the potato sticks with the olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper, they're already pretty well-flavored/salty so I didn't need to add additional salt when I was eating them.  The main thing I did wrong though was not to spray the foil-lined baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  I figured because the potato sticks were tossed with olive oil, that would be enough to prevent sticking.  Wrong.  Every single one of them stuck to the foil.  I had to pry some of them loose, hence the very amaterish appearance.  Didn't stop me from eating them though.  The potato sticks were crunchy on the outside and some of the bigger pieces had that nice mealy texture inside.  My knife skills are deplorable so I ended up cutting different sizes of potato sticks and some baked into crisp little sticks while others were the size and texture of steak fries.  Clearly, my standards for cooking "real food" are lower than my standards for baking.  Nevertheless, I liked this recipe and would make it again, preferably next time with a nice juicy teriyaki burger.

2 large (1 ½ to 2 pounds) Russet Burbank (Idaho) baking potatoes
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1.        Place the potatoes, unpeeled, in the refrigerator for a day or two.  When ready to cook, scrub but do not peel, and cut into fat French fry sticks.  Rinse well under running water.
2.       Preheat the oven to 450˚F.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. (Don't skip this part and make a mess like I did.)
3.       Steam the potato sticks for 8 minutes.  Pat dry.  Stir together the olive oil, salt, cayenne, and rosemary in a medium bowl.  Add the potato sticks and toss well to coat.  Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake until lightly browned, about 1 hour.
4.       Sprinkle the Parmesan over the potatoes and return to the oven just long enough to melt the cheese, about 4 minutes.  Taste and add salt as needed.  Serve immediately.

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