The main difference between oven-roasting potatoes and oven-frying them is the quantity of oil used and cooking temperature. When oven-roasting, you need just enough oil to coat the potatoes and an oven temperature of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When oven-frying, you want a copious amount of oil to promote crisping and browning, and a screaming hot 475 F oven to reproduce the effects of a deep fryer.
Potato Selection and Prep
You don't have to go out of your way to find a suitable oven-frying potato -- common russets crisp better and absorb flavor more readily than other varieties. That's not to say if you happen to have a supply of Yukon Golds or red potatoes in the pantry that you can't use them. You can oven-fry any potato, but russets and all-purpose varieties, such as Yukons and reds, respond better to oven-frying than waxy varieties such as purple potatoes and fingerlings.
Scrub the potatoes and cut them into the desired shape. For thick-cut fries, cut large potatoes lengthwise into eighths. If you have medium spuds, cut them in quarters, while you can halve new potatoes.
Parboiling reduces overall cooking time and promotes even cooking throughout the potato. Boil the potatoes for five minutes in lightly salted water after you cut them and let them drain for two to three minutes. After boiling, shake the potatoes in the colander to rough the exteriors. The texture created by jostling the potatoes creates more surface area and thus more crevices for the oil to reach, resulting in a crisper potato.
You need about 1 tablespoon of dried spices or 2 tablespoons of fresh spices per pound of potatoes to start. Add more herbs and spices and salt to taste.
- For a spicy potato, mix equal parts paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
- If using fresh herbs, try sage and thyme for a woodsy, aromatic flavor profile.
- Combine freshly chopped chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon for a well-rounded herb ensemble that doesn't overpower the palate.
- To keep things light and fresh, toss the potatoes with freshly chopped parsley as soon as they come out of the oven.
- If you're using aromatics, such as garlic and onions, roughly chop them in large pieces. Oven-frying occurs at temperatures that incinerate minced garlic and onions. Halve the garlic cloves and chop the onions into pieces 1/2 inch or larger. When you take the potatoes out, give everything a good toss to distribute the flavor of the garlic and onions.
Things You'll Need
- 2 pounds of potatoes, sliced and parboiled
- 4 to 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil or olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Herbs and spices, to taste
Heat the oven to 475 F. Set the oven rack in the bottom position. Toss the potatoes with the oil, salt and, if you're using them, herbs and spices.
Arrange the potatoes in a shallow baking dish. It's OK if the potatoes touch. Place the potatoes in the oven.
Cook the potatoes for 25 minutes. Turn the potatoes over using a spatula and cook them until thoroughly crisped, about 10 more minutes.
Take the potatoes out of the oven and drain them on paper towels or a wire rack set upon a sheet pan. If adding herbs to finish, toss them with the potatoes in a mixing bowl while hot.
Use leftover oven-fried potatoes for a crisp, textured take on restaurant-style potato salad.