Wicked Easy Oven Fries

I suppose I could have just called these “Easy Oven Fries,” but that’s so bland and generic and easily passed over.  But throw in the word “Wicked,” and I may just grab some more attention!   Of course they’re not wicked in the “Wicked Witch of the West” sense.  But rather wicked good and easy to prepare.  The secret is par-cooking the potato wedges in the microwave for 10 minutes.   They crisp up in the oven in about half an hour, without drying out.  For some extra indulgence, toss them with a little truffle oil before serving or a few pinches of fresh herbs.  Or, if you’re like my children…just dunk them in a mound of ketchup.  Now THAT is wicked good eating!
Wicked Easy Oven Fries

1 ½ pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cut into wedges
3 TBS vegetable oil or olive oil
½ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450º. Place potatoes in a microwave-safe rectangular pan (ideally potatoes should fit in one layer) and cover with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in the plastic. Cook in microwave on high for 10 minutes. Carefully remove plastic wrap (there will be a good deal of steam and the potatoes will be very hot!). Drain potatoes briefly on some paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

Line a jelly roll pan with non-stick foil (or alternatively, spray with non-stick spray). Transfer potatoes to pan. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Bake in oven until crispy golden, turning occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Serves: 4

TIME SAVING TIPS:

Fries can be fully cooked and refrigerated ahead of time. Reheat in microwave or in a 325º oven for about 30 minutes, loosely covered with foil.

Upper Crust Potatoes

3 pounds Idaho potatoes (about 6)

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves

3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1/2 paprika

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup dried bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Oil the bottom of a shallow 2 quart baking dish.

2. Peel and very thinly slice the potatoes. Place them in a mixing bowl and add 3/4 cup of the cream. Toss to mix. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a skillet, and add the shallots and garlic. Saute over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes; do not brown.

4. Add the bay leaves and rosemary to the skillet. Whisk in the cream cheese, milk, and remaining 3/4 cup cream. Simmer, whisking constantly, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add paprika, salt, and pepper. Discard the bay leaves and pour the mixture of the potatoes; toss gently.

5. Arrange potato mixture in a baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle it first with the Parmesan, and then with the bread crumbs.

6. Bake until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown and bubbly, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

From The New Basics Cookbook by Rosso & Lukins