Oven fries, tried and true.
You’d think something like oven baked chips would be a simple process. If not, a simple google search would surely tell you how to solve the dilemma of getting your chips not to stick, or someone will have posted why they never come out all crunchy like the pre-fried, frozen packeted stuff. Even if you want to bombard me with links confirming your convictions in the food blogosphere, I will tell you this much: every trick that I’ve picked up from google searches and otherwise perfectly likeable food blogs have not made me a happy oven chip maker. Why? Well, even if I wasn’t too lazy to boil the potatoes first for the exact right amount of time, then coat them in chickpea flour to make them crunchy, and somehow on top of that remember to preheat the oven with the pan and oil in…would I? I can say right now that I’ve never done all three, and pretty much never intend to. You know why? Because, GODDAMNIT, they are oven fries. If I wanted perfect fries, it ain’t hard to find them in less time and effort. If I was in the mood for finicky business, I’d make a filo pie or something, right? With caramelised onions, just to up the potential for screw ups (do not ask me about screw ups, by the way, unless you’d like a lengthy rant about the perils of whisking your own mayo or the importance to always use common sense, no matter what a recipe tells you…oh, wait, too late, I seem to have expelled a lengthy sentence within brackets already).
It’s okay…the need to insert a picture has somewhat distracted me. Basically, I thought it was high time for me to post the method I finally figured out that didn’t involve much effort, had a total cooking time of only 30 minutes (even frozen fries require about that much time, except maybe for shoestring fries), and were acceptable to the palate. Of course, I didn’t manage this all on my own, and credit must be given to Emily, new flatmate addition, for making chips one night. There I stood, disbelieving, and now here I am, converted. I may use two to three times as much oil as Emily does, but really, if you’re going to punish me for that, you’re evidently just a nit picker. Nit picker.
One thing I will say about the oil quantity: Loads of oil will mean the chips will end up softening as they cool. On the other hand, if you skimp on the oil, your chips will be relatively hard but drier, which is fine if you plan to drown them in aioli, but I figure I should mention these things. At the end of this post I will also provide some tips should you one day decide to take on the task of making the perfect oven chips/wedges, you nutjob. Heh. Only kidding. Also, I know the guide looks long, but really, I’m just giving you very detailed instructions and tips throughout so that there is pretty much no way you’ll screw this up, unless your oven explodes unexpectedly or something.
The guide to EASY, no-anguish oven fries/wedges
Preheat your oven to 230C (450F), with one rack arranged on the VERY bottom, and one rack arranged on the VERY top of the oven. Grease 1-2 baking trays or flat bottomed roasting dish with about half as much oil as you intend to use (see above my note about oil quantity and how it affects chip texture). Cut your potatoes into chip shapes, about 1cm wide and 1cm thick, or wedges about 2cm thick. Place them on your greased tray(s) as you go, all on a single layer, leaving enough space between the chips. This bit is key to the not sticking part of the process – make sure you leave at least a 1mm gap between every chip. Corners can touch, but not sides. Drizzle the potatoes with the second half of the oil you intend to use, and brush with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon to coat the chips in oil (unless you like hard, leathery chips). Remember to maintain that 1mm distance between the chips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and herbs if you want.
Now, you can do two trays at a time with this method, or one tray (I think one tray serves one relatively student as lunch on its own), but the rotation halfway is essential. Once your oven is up to temperature, place trays in, one on the very bottom, one on the very top. If you’re only doing one tray, start the chips on the bottom rack (they stick the least) Set your timer for 15 minutes (although I’d check at 10, just in case). Once the 15 minutes are up, swap the trays over, or move your single tray from the bottom to top rack. Let bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven once the tops and bottoms are golden, or have golden patches. Wedges may need a few extra minutes. Let cool on trays for a minute before removing with a heatproof spatula or tongs.
Serve with your favourite sauce, or on their own.
Tips & Tricks
Instead of putting the potatoes straight onto your tray, put them in a large bowl and add 3/4 of the oil, some chickpea flour, and any herbs/spices you like, plus salt. Toss to just coat the chips/wedges in the mixture, and then spread out on your oven trays.
If you want the chips to be as not-soft as possible, place a napkin/paper towels/serviettes in your serving bowl before putting them in the bowl.
Check out my simple cajun spice mix. For a really simple flavour boost, you can use garlic salt (sprinkle onto chips 15 minutes into cooking when rotating so the heat doesn’t zap the flavour), mixed herbs, or simply a pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder to add a spicy punch. Lemon pepper always goes well with any sort of seafood.
Check out my sauces and dressings page if you feel like whipping up a really simple dipping sauce while the chips are cooking. Personally I’m a big sucker for tartare, but of course, it all depends on your mood and the day.