Sunday, March 29, 2009

Friday Dinner: Baked Garlic Parmesan Fries

Here was our attempt at being healthy and bad at the same time. Fries, being made of potato, which is all starch, are never really "good" for you. But there's bad, and then there's slightly less bad. That's what we had on Friday.



They were good -- I made half the recipe, which called for 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, and I ate every last one. But were they just like regular french fries? Not so much. Frying gives fries the texture that makes them fries; baking them is an OK substitute, but in the end you're really just roasting potatoes in the shape of french fries. And hey, that's OK too. It's certainly easier to bake them -- there are more steps involved -- but not having to deal with large amounts of frying oil is a reward in itself. At the end of the day, I'll say that both methods of making fries have their strong and weak points, and really, when you get to eat potatoes at the end of it, there's not much to complain about.

Making fries isn't new to me... after all, I've fried them properly and tried baking them as well. But this was a slight twist on the latter method. It required first baking the fries, then tossing them with butter, garlic, parmesan cheese, and parsley. It took the full 50 minutes of baking time to get my fries as brown as they look, and they didn't even start remotely looking brown until about 41 minutes. Alas for Trix, whose oven must not run as hot as mine, never got hers to be even half as brown after 60 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may find that you need to keep your fries in longer (or take them out earlier).

As usual I kept the skin of the potatoes on, as I like how they look, they don't taste any different to me, and they add what minimal nutritional value there is to fries.



Baked Garlic Parmesan Fries

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 4 medium-sized ones), peeled or not
  • cooking oil spray
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Layer a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Using a knife or mandolin, slice potatoes into fries about 1/4" thick. Blot away moisture as best as you can. (If you're a slow chopper or are doubling the recipe, you may want to immerse your potatoes in water as you cut them so they don't oxidize. Be sure to dry them thoroughly before baking.)
  3. Place the fries into a gallon-sized plastic bag along with the canola oil and salt. Seal the bag and massage the contents so that all the potatoes are well coated.
  4. Layer the fries onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading them out into a single layer as best as you can.
  5. Place the sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the fries (I just kind of give them all a toss). Put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. During the last minute or two of baking, heat the butter in a large pan. Saute the garlic for 30-45 seconds, making sure that they don't brown. The garlic should remain soft for best flavor. Turn off the heat.
  7. Add the baked fries to the garlic and butter. Using tongs or a spatula, carefully move the fries around (they're more delicate than their fried counterparts) so that they're coated. Top with parmesan and parsley. Give everything a quick toss, place on a dish, and serve.

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