March 20, 2014 1 Comment
I’ll be honest with you: I freaking LOVE French fries.
I also freaking LOVE fried chicken. No huge surprise there.
But what I don’t love? All of the OIL!
You know me, you know my blog: I have no problems whatsoever with fat. Heck, I have a moisturizer made out of tallow; I know how beneficial good fats–from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals, nuts, avocados, coconuts, and chocolate–can be for your health and your body.
But I hate frying things.
First of all, it scares me. Even with an apron, tongs, and goggles, I still back away every time I drop a piece of meat of vegetables into more than a few tablespoons of fat. I accidentally rested on my calf on a hot tailpipe when I was in middle school–and have a scar to prove it–so naturally, heated oil kinda freaks me out.
Frying oil also seems to find its way into every nook of my hair and clothes, meaning I have to take a shower right away or I’ll smell like the pits of MacDonald’s for days. While I do enjoy smelling food, I do not enjoy smelling like food, unless that food is, oh, chocolate. Or coconuts. Or vanilla. Or perhaps mango. Maybe strawberries? CUPCAKES. YES. But anyway, I prefer to keep dinner smells at the dinner table, and that’s that.
I also don’t like using all of that oil. Two cups of coconut oil for one dish? Not worth it, in my opinion. My pumpkin spice latte cupcakes, for example, only need 1/4 cup of oil, so I’d much rather make eight batches of those instead of only a batch of truly fried food.
I am, however, a master of the oven, the most-used appliance in my kitchen.
It’s fabulous: throw all of your potentially grease-projecting, smell-inducing food into a magic box, and it comes out crispy, golden brown, and devoid of extra oil lurking around the edges. Change the temperature at will. Stir it and not have your food spew up on you. Leave it unattended. It’s amazing.
Today, I’m here to introduce you to the awesomesauceness (yes, that is a word in my world) of oven-frying. Done correctly, you can produce a crunchy, mouth-watering delicacy, all while keeping your kitchen relatively clean and preventing yourself from attaining that unpleasing fry-odor.
I do hope you like French fries. And fried chicken. Because, as I already said, I certainly do.
Let’s make the French fries first.
Whenever I make French fries in the oven, I always run into two issues: the potatoes stick to the pan and burn in some cases, and slide around too much and become soggy in others. These are the main reasons why I rarely make oven fries and instead opt for simply roasted potatoes or mini hasselback potatoes instead.
But then, I tried the recipe in The Smitten Kitchen cookbook. And my issues with oven-frying completely vanished.
In her recipe, Deb–the author of the magnificent book–first parboils the potatoes, then drains them and finishes them off in the oven. The result is a crispy, still-tender fry that doesn’t render a soggy product. I adapted her approach based on my personal tastes, and the result was a batch of oven fries that tasted really close to “the real thing.”
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease two large baking sheets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or other cooking fat) each. Set aside.
You are first going to need…potatoes! I got mine at the farmers’ market, so I don’t remember what variety they were. If you’re shopping at the supermarket, I’d recommend Yukon Gold over Russet for a final product with a bit more personality. I suppose you could also use sweet potatoes–although they are completely unrelated from a biological standpoint–or another root vegetable, but I haven’t tested either yet.
Make sure you wash your potatoes and scrub ’em well. Dry them off with a dish towel or paper towels, then slice them into medium-sized matchsticks, or use your 16 cup food processor’s convenient French fry blade.
Guess which one I picked. Hint: it took only 17 seconds for all of the potatoes you see above here.
My friend Breville did a smashing job.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Once it vigorously bubbles, add in the French fries and reduce the heat slightly so the water just slightly bubbles. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender to the touch.
Carefully drain the French fries into a colander, then give them a quick rinse in cold water to wash off some of the accumulated starch and stop the cooking process. Dry the fries off well with some paper towels.
Once no longer wet, divide the fries evenly between the two baking sheets and sprinkle vigorously with salt. Toss a few times to cook, then bake until golden brown and soft in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes. Shake the pan every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent sticking and ensure even browning.
Serve immediately with some homemade mayonnaise on the side, or dip into your favorite sauce or broth to have a delicious bite of flavor-infused potato.
Now, eating French fries for dinner would possibly be perfectly acceptable, but I think we need something other than potatoes in this meal.
We need fried chicken. And we need it NOW. So let’s make it!
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil or your fat of choice. Don’t skimp! You don’t want the chicken to stick, because that would kinda suck.
Take out three bowls to set up your assembly line for coating the chicken.
In the first bowl, combine 1 cup of arrowroot powder with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In the second bowl, beat together 2 large eggs. In the third bowl, stir together 2 cups of almond flour with 1/2 cup of ground flax meal, 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of thyme, and 2 teaspoons of salt, making sure to break up any clumps in the almond flour.
You’re now ready to make finger-lickin’ oven-fried chicken! Take out 2.5-3 lb of chicken drumsticks, thighs, or a combination of the two, and dunk each one first in arrowroot, then in egg, then finally in the almond flour/flax meal mixture. Put on the wire rack and let dry at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, then dunk once more in JUST the almond flour/flax meal mixture. This will help create a crust that both sticks to the chicken and is actually crunchy.
Bake for 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven, or until the crust is just firm to the touch. Remove the chicken from the oven, brush with 2 tablespoons of melted ghee, then put back in the oven on the middle rack for another 10 minutes.
Flip the chicken over and repeat the same on the other side, starting on the top rack, brushing with ghee, then moving to the middle to finish cooking.
Serve immediately to the hungry army that will likely be awaiting you when you present them with this dish. It’s to die for. Leftovers are also delicious, if there are any.
So, there you have it! Oven-frying can work–and be super tasty. I promise.
What are your favorite things to oven-fry? Do you have any tips or tricks? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!