Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I'm Learning From Cooking Channel

I had a eureka moment last week while I was plopped in front of the TV for my Cooking Channel marathon.  Although I am reserving judgment of the new programs until I have seen them a few times, "Chuck's Day Off" shows promise.  
Late one evening, I caught myself looking up from my computer to watch Chuck in action.  Set in his restaurant kitchen, Chuck moves fast, as does the pace of the show.  In this episode, he was making dinner for a few firemen who saved his restaurant from incineration.  Unfortunately, I missed that story because I didn't start paying attention until he started cooking a standing rib roast encased in salt and potatoes I actually make - oven fries.
Oven fries are a less fattening alternative to french fries and are good when you are trying to cut calories but you crave a spud.  They also make less of a greasy mess, and since I am the cook and the maid around here, I can appreciate that. 

So why does this photo show both oven-fried and deep-fried potatoes?  I must be a glutton for greasy punishment, that's why.  No, my skinny kid likes them better submerged in fat, and he needs the calories.

I have seen several TV chefs prepare oven fries, but I don't recall as part of the prep the instructions to soak them in cold water and to keep rinsing them until the water runs clear, ridding the potatoes of starch.  Turns out this step is crucial to crisping the fries.  That was my big beef with oven fries - sometimes they were boring slabs of textureless potato. 

I followed Chuck's method and what a difference a soak makes!  Perhaps you already knew this trick, but if not, you might want to give it a try.  These were the best oven fries I have ever made.

Crispy Oven Fries
(Thanks to Chuck Hughes)

4 large russet potatoes, cut into steak fry thickness
3 to 4 T olive oil
Pinch of sea or kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Dash of smoked paprika
Dash of steak spice seasoning

Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  1. Cut potatoes into thick slices.  Place in a large bowl and cover with cold water.
  2. Drain the potatoes and then repeat the process of soaking and draining until the water in the bowl is clear.   Just keep running water over them; it's a fast process.
  3. Drain potatoes and pat dry with paper towel.  Drying them is important.
  4. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Do not overlap potatoes.  Use two sheets if necessary.  If you use two sheets, rotate them on the shelves of your oven halfway through the cooking time.
  5. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.  Use your (clean) hands to mix it all up.
  6. Bake 40 minutes or until golden and crispy.
  7. Sprinkle with additional seasonings.  Chuck suggests steak spice.


  1. I did NOT know about the soak! Thanks, I'll be trying it in anticipation of a crisper texture. Also, has anyone out there tried this method with sweet potatoes???

  2. I've done oven fries before and they are delicious. There are some variations on the basic recipe that are tasty, such as sprinkling parmesan cheese or Mrs. Dash on the potatoes. We also like them dipped in blue cheese or ranch dressing, light of course, to cut the mega calories it would be otherwise.