Oven French fries are a great way to fix potatoes without adding a whole lot of extra fat that comes from frying. It is also a bit safer than dealing with a vat of hot oil, making this a good recipe for kids to try.
I have been serving store bought oven French fries to my kids for years. This was less motivated by health concerns then by a need for something quick, filling, and pleasing. The product you can buy here in France really is not too bad - some oil and just a hint of chemical something while they are cooking. But when I realized how easy it was to make our own and how much tastier, I started buying bags of potatoes instead of bags of pre-cut, frozen fries.
The only challenge with doing your own baked French fries is getting those potatoes cut. I am now pretty happy with an inexpensive French fry cutter that I bought at the grocery store.
The first time I used this machine though for making oven French fries, I was ready to throw it out the window. It was my son who pointed out that I had jammed the apparatus by trying to feed it too big of a chunk of potato, which was getting caught on the sides. Getting the chunk out was another ten minutes of effort.
Now I trim the potatoes down to tidy little boxes and feed them through. Excessive force is not required and I can slice a kilo of frites in a couple of minutes. If you are a huge homemade French fry fan, you might like to consider
one of the more expensive metal French fry cutters.
Of course for baked French fries, you do not have to use a classic French fry shape at all. Feel free to cut the potatoes as you wish. Slicing with a knife is just fine. If you leave the peel on and cut them in wedges, you can call them potatoes (with a French accent) - that is how they are known here in France. Strange.
Getting Them Crispy
Oven French fries are easy to make and they sure are tasty, but are they crispy? It's going to be hard to get that same hot crispy crunch that comes from deep fat frying. Make sure that none of the fries are touching each other as they are baking and follow the recipe instructions to turn up the heat towards the end, and you should get some crunch. You can get even more crunch by twice baking the oven fries, but we're trying to keep things easy around here.
other seasonings to your taste (optional): cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, herbes de provence
Preheat oven to 425° F.
If you use thin skinned potatoes for your oven French fries, you won't have to peel them! Just give them a scrub and slice them up. Otherwise, peel them before slicing.
Once they are sliced, place the potatoes in a large bowl. Pour on the vegetable oil and sprinkle on the seasonings. Use a large spoon to completely mix and evenly coat the potatoes with oil and seasonings.
Spread the potatoes on a non-stick cookie sheet. Make sure that none of the slices are touching each other. You may need two cookie sheets to fit them all.
Place them in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and turn the fries once as they are cooking. (Watch out when you open the oven door the first time - a lot of steam will come out.)
If you are using thicker slices, you may need to bake them a bit more. Just keep testing.
When they are cooked through, turn the heat up on the oven to 450° F and bake them for another 5 minutes. This final blast of heat will help make them a little crispy.