For a lot of people, French fries are probably what the Whole 30 people call “food without breaks.” If you’re not familiar with the term, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically it means a food we start eating and simply don’t stop until the whole batch is gone. There are psychological reasons behind it, such as the food being hyper-stimulating and physical reasons, such as our bodies aren’t getting nutrition from the food and therefore our satiety hormones don’t kick in. (For more on this topic, read It Starts With Food.) For the most part, fries aren’t necessarily a food-without-breaks item for me. Unless, of course, I’ve had a few too many grown up drinks and said fries are covered with cheese. In that case…
All of my guys love fries. And while fries, even homemade ones, aren’t necessarily an “approved” Paleo food (even though white potatoes were recently added to the approved Whole 30 list with some caveats), it’s much healthier to make them at home than it is to pick them up at a fast food joint. If you make them at home, you’re helping yourself in two ways. One, you can control the ingredients that go into them (including not frying them in vegetable or peanut oil and not going heavy handed with the salt – have you seen the workers salt the fries at these places??). Two, they require more effort to cook than running by the closest fast food place, so you probably aren’t going to be eating them quite as often.
So, while these are healthier than their nasty drive-thru dopplegangers, it’s still not something you want to eat all the time, and definitely not while you’re on a Whole 30. But for those times when you just gotta have some fries, these will do. In my humble but correct opinion, these are tastier than anything you’re going to get in a fast food joint.
I’ve been on a kick using my new farmers’ market chili powder, but I went with the commercial stuff this time. I don’t have a really good feel for how spicy the Anaheim-pepper-only stuff is going to be just yet and since you can’t taste test raw potatoes, I figured it was safer to go with what I knew would work. Remember, I’m the wimpy holy-crap-that’s-spicy girl.
6-8 red potatoes, skins on, scrubbed well (for four of us I fill a large mixing bowl about 3⁄4 full)
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1⁄2 tsp onion powder
1⁄2 tsp paprika
1⁄4 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and grease. Set aside. Cut potatoes into French fry shapes (I go for large shoe string size). I have a fancy little French fry cutter which makes it a breeze, but you could also use a mandolin or cut them by hand. Just be sure to get them uniform. If your potatoes are bigger than shoe string size, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Steak fries, for example, will take closer to 45 minutes.
Put potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil over top, then toss to coat. Mix together all seasonings except salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle half the mixture over the potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning and toss again.
Arrange potatoes on baking sheet in as close to a single layer as you can get (I always have some overlap). Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until fries are soft. Turn on broiler and continue cooking until fries start to crisp, checking them every minute or two to ensure they don’t burn.