Let me state this right in the beginning - how do you strike the balance between crispy and not burnt? 3Ts -- Timing? Temperature? Thickness?
When I searched the internet for references, it looks simple enough. Cut the potatoes, toss it will oil, roast it in the oven and you get crispy oven fries. Not as easy as it sounds.
I made this twice and my logic tells me that if you slice the potato thinly, naturally your fries will be crispy. Then I ran into two problems - a) roasting temperature and timing became tricky business, b) try to array sliced potato on a baking dish, you run out of space before you reach for the second potato.
So for the second time, I cut the potato into wedges instead. That solved both problems, kind-of. You have more room to work with, figuratively and literally. Temperature and timing control become manageable and you can fit more potatoes wedges on a baking pan.
Here's what I did:
1. Cut three russet potatoes into even size wedges. I left the skin on.
2. Soaked the potato wedges in water for 30 minutes, changed water every 10 minutes. The effect of this step in creating crispy potato wedges is debatable. I might need to do a control experiment to test the effect of +/- soaking.
3. Drained and dried the wedges, toss it in some oil and arranged it on a baking pan.
(Line the pan with wax paper/baking sheet to prevent sticking)
4. Roast one side for 15 minutes (preheat oven to 220C/430F), turned off the oven but leave the potato in the oven for 15 minutes.
5. Turn the wedges to the other side. Restart the oven to 220C/430F. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes.
6. Remove the wedges from the oven, toss with salt and serve.
And here's what I found out:
Nope, it wasn't crispy in the McD or Shake Shack fries sense. Not even close but there is a hint of crispiness. I think I am going to say that the only way to make truly crispy fries is to deep fry it in oil.
To be fair, oven fries do taste delicious. Potato is one of those food that transform and shine when you bake it. It is like a blank canvas that you can paint with additional flavors, but as for me, a pinch of salt is all I need.