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March 01, 2013

"You want fries with that?"

Perfect Oven Fries
Mr. B and I are always searching for the perfect burger. To that end, we've found many that we like and while they are all wildly different in size and style, they are all very good in their own right. Sometimes, you feel like eating a burger so saucy you have to roll up your sleeves, while other times, you just want that really good, simple burger.

Finding a good burger is easy, but trying to find really good fries is one of the more difficult culinary pursuits. Mr. B and I order fries just about everywhere, but after a few, if they're not good, well, we don't bother. We live by the mantra Life is too short to eat bad fries.

There's a secret to really, really good fries--no, that's not true; there are two secrets to really, really good fries. The first, they are fried twice, once at a lower temperature and the second time at a much higher temperature. The other secret? Superb fries, the sort you never want to stop eating, the kind you don't share, those are fried in duck fat. Yep; good old duck fat.

Trying to make good fries without breaking out the deep fryer, or going in search of a tub of duck fat, kept me busy for several years. I knew that oven fries could be the ticket, but I just never came across a method of preparation that really turned out good fries. Not to mention, so many of the recipes had added steps--soaking, freezing, even starting off with partially cooked potatoes, and all the extra steps just made for more work without better results.

Eventually, though, I came across the perfect method. Simple and straightforward, this recipe turns out delicious, crisp fries every time. Fries so good and easy to make that I often find myself asking Mr. B, "You want fries with that?"

Perfect Oven Fries

2 Extra large Russet potatoes
Canola oil
Salt

1. Wash the potatoes and dry. With a sharp knife, square the potatoes. Squaring means cutting off the edges and the sides, so that you basically have a square potato. Not all of the peel will be removed, which is great since the remaining peel gives the fries a rustic touch.
2. Slice the potatoes, vertically, into 4 equal pieces, then cut each slice into 5 fries of equal size.
3. Pour two capfuls of canola oil onto a large, rimmed sheet pan and spread the oil evenly around the pan.
4. Arrange the potatoes in two even rows.
5. Bake in a preheated 350º oven until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy on the bottom.
6. Increase oven temperature to 425º.
7. Flip potatoes over and bake in 425º oven until crispy and golden brown. This happens very quickly once you increase the temperature, so watch carefully.
8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt; arrange in a bowl lined with a napkin or paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
9. Serve immediately with ketchup or aioli.

* Don't be tempted to skimp on the oil.

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