There is a burger place two blocks from our house that makes the most incredible french fries imaginable. Perfectly crisp, these fries are quickly tossed with just a hint of truffle oil when they emerge, piping hot, from a deep fryer, and if there was ever a time that I thought I sounded like a complete loon when discussing a food idea I enjoyed, now would be it: I am raving about fried food that is spritzed with oil. Whatever has happened to me?
As some of you may recall, I am a french fry devotee, by which I mean that when I am looking for a rare treat or a counterbalance to a bad day, my thoughts turn to french fries. (Note: When I say that I am looking for a “rare” treat, I do not mean that I rarely partake in treats, but rather that, when partaking in this particular treat, it is a rare occurrence. French fries and I only come into contact about six times a year, so we’re not nearly as cozy as one might suspect. Cake and I, on the other hand…) One might think that, being a french fry fanatic, I will eat any french fry, without discrimination, and declare it to be wonderful. Not so. Too often, I have eaten french fries that are intensely greasy, sadly soggy, or obviously just fried sticks of previously-frozen potatoes that are lacking in any sort of notable flavor or positive qualities. I don’t love all french fries. I only love really, really good french fries.
This is why, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, it is such a joy for me to announce that, at long last, I think I have perfected the art of making french fries at home. Not just that, I have perfected a recipe for making super crisp and flavorful baked french fries, which is like the Holy Grail of homemade french fry making. No vat of scorching hot oil, my friends. No lingering scent of old grease. Just three ingredients (four, if you count an optional sprinkling of black pepper), a couple of baking sheets, and a hot oven are all that lie between you and the most delicious oven fries—perhaps even the most delicious french fries, period—you’ve ever made. The secret, if one can even call it that, lies in soaking your potato slices in a bowl of warm water before you toss them with oil and salt and then roast them in the oven. That’s it. I know. I know. A few tablespoon of oil, a bit of truffle salt, and you’re in. I’ll stop talking now so we can get right to it.
Last Year: The best wine opener I’ve ever owned
Perfect Oven Fries with Truffle Salt Recipe
It just so happens that two different people have given me truffle salt this year, so I happen to have an abundance of it lying around. If you’re wondering how to find some for yourself, I found a few listings on Amazon that were not too expensive. I also found some listings that were outlandishly expensive, so please do keep in mind that a little bit of this stuff goes a long way, so you certainly don’t need to buy more than an ounce or so of it in order to have a good supply.
About 2 pounds medium-sized russet potatoes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon truffle salt, divided
optional: freshly ground black pepper
Slice the short ends off of the potatoes, then slice off just a bit of the long sides, creating a somewhat flat surface on either side. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into ¼-inch slices, then cut those long slices into ¼-inch strips.
Place the potato strips in a large bowl of lukewarm water, then gently swish the potatoes around until the water becomes quite cloudy. Drain the water from the bowl, refill with lukewarm water once more, then swish the potatoes around again until the water is again cloudy. Drain the water from the bowl, then fill a third time with lukewarm water, and allow the potatoes to sit in the water for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
While the potatoes are soaking, preheat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Place an oven rack in the lowest position, and another oven rack in the second-lowest position.
After the potatoes have soaked, thoroughly drain them in a colander. Wipe dry the large bowl in which the potatoes were soaking. In the bowl, combine the vegetable oil with ½ teaspoon of the truffle salt. Whisk the salt into the oil until it has dissolved as much as possible (you will still be able to see many grains of salt after whisking for a minute or so, but that is all right—you just want to thoroughly infuse the oil with the seasoning). Leave the oil and salt together while you finish drying the potatoes by thoroughly blotting them in a large dishtowel.
Place the dry potatoes in the bowl with the oil and salt. Using your hands, toss everything together until all of the potatoes are thoroughly coated in the oil and salt. Divide the potatoes amongst two large, heavy duty baking sheets, making sure the potatoes are arranged in a single layer. Tightly cover the baking sheets with foil, then place one batch of potatoes on the lowest oven rack, and the other batch on the second-lowest rack. Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes, exchanging the positions of the two baking sheets halfway through.
Remove the foil from the baking sheets, then return sheets to the oven, one sheet on the lowest rack, the next sheet on the second-lowest rack. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove baking sheets from oven, carefully flip over the potatoes, again arranging them in a single layer, and return to the oven to finish baking, reversing their positions for the final baking (so the sheet that was just one the lowest level is now on the second-lowest level, and vice versa). Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the potatoes are a deep golden brown and crisp all over.
Remove potatoes to a plate lined with a layer of paper towels. Sprinkle potatoes with the remaining ½ teaspoon of truffle salt, and, if you desire, a light sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Serve piping hot.