The Perfect French Fries

In retail, it seems like everybody smokes.  I suppose you have to cope with the stress of each paycheck being based on commission, crazy customers, and standing for 9 hours a day somehow.  Smoking, however, wouldn't be my first (or last) choice.  I'm pretty sure I deal by cooking and therefore, eating.  So, when a brutally slow day ends, I spend my stoplights reading recipes, and trying desperately to ignore all the delicious food I drive by on my way home.  I'm not sure if this is more or less embarrassing than my last food admission, but I secretly like Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds.  Sometimes, if my day went poorly enough, I'll drive through and get myself a Happy Meal-but I ask for a boy's toy so that maybe, possibly the cashier doesn't think its for me-like that even matters.  That gesture makes me feel better about the whole situation though; plus the little boys' gadgets are usually way cooler, let's be honest.  Tonight, after an unproductive day at work I managed to resist stopping for America's (and my) favorite fries, and instead resolved to make my own.  After reading a variety of articles, and recognizing that I shouldn't try deep frying anything today (I managed to burn my finger on a PANCAKE this morning... seriously.  I probably should've snagged some Micky D's just for my own safety) I pieced together the following French Fry Procedure, and they pretty much rock.  There are a few tricks to these babies: using cornstarch in the fry coating, precooking the potato in the microwave, and heating the oil and pan to ensure a crispy outer. 

 What you need:
  • 4 Russet potatoes, or about 6 Yukon golds (depending on size)
  • 5 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder, black pepper
What you do:
  1. Heat your oven to 450°F and move the oven rack to the lowest position.  Place 4 Tbs of the vegetable oil on the baking sheet.
  2. Cut your potatoes into 1/2" thick fries.  Place in a microwave safe bowl with the lid cracked (or cover in plastic wrap) and microwave for 3-5 minutes, until potatoes are tender but still retain their shape well.
  3. Carefully remove your potatoes (they will be steamy) and blot dry on paper towel-the drier the better.
  4. Pop your oiled baking sheet into the oven for 5-7 minutes, oil will get HOT and a bit smokey.  Right when your oil starts smoke, that's your cue it's ready.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 Tbs vegetable oil, cornstarch, salt, and desired seasoning.  Add your half-cooked fries and stir to coat. 
  6. Now, it's time to work fast.  Remove your smokin' hot baking sheet from the oven, and quickly arrange your fries in a single layer with space between.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes on the lowest rack.  Flip your fries and bake another 10-12 minutes on the lowest rack. (OR you can simply place a cookie cooling rack on the baking sheet, and your fries atop that, eliminating the need to flip your fries.  I am way too lazy to flip fries)
  8. Serve hot, they don't even demand ketchup, but ketchup is basically the condiment of the Gods, so I slather my fries in ketchup anyways.  Try not to eat'em all :)
  • Ensure your fries have enough space on the cookie sheet, if they are too close together they will steam and stay soggy rather than crisp up.
  • You can sub sweet potatoes and follow the same general idea.

Yields 4 servings, or one entree size serving......

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