Recently, I shared our go-to recipe for football games. This one is a close second.
Every now and then we go to a certain chain restaurant for a totally over-the-top treat: loaded cheese fries. They are so freakin’ good, but not at all good for us. We usually leave feeling satiated and happy, but also rather sluggish and definitely a tad guilty.
I decided that I needed to recreate a dish that would closely resemble the restaurant version without having to fry anything. Enter these oven fries. I perfected my oven fry method after many failed attempts. They never tasted like french fries. They tasted like baked potatoes.
Lucky for you, despite my many failed attempts, I finally figured it out! I took all the methods and tips from the various recipes I tried and combined them into one. The key things are this: soaking your potatoes (SO important), not overcrowding the baking sheets, and cranking your oven temperature almost as high as it will go. If you do this, you’ll end up with crispy, golden fries that TASTE fried every time.
Now, of course, I totally undo my good intentions when I pile on crispy bacon and cheese and dunk them in a vat of ranch dressing…. But there are scallions and jalapeños in the mix too! And they are GREEN! Which means they make this healthy!
I know. I’m not fooling anyone.
No matter what I try to tell myself, this is still a treat dish. We definitely don’t eat this way all the time. But when we do, we are very happy campers. And we don’t have to feel QUITE as guilty as we do when we eat the fried version.
I’ll take it (along with an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill).
3 large Russet potatoes, washed well and sliced into 1-inch thick wedges
4 strips bacon
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup pickled jalapeño peppers, chopped
¼ cup scallions, chopped
Ranch dressing, for serving
Once the potatoes have been washed and cut, rinse very well under cold water to remove the excess starch. Place in a large bowl and cover with very cold water. Allow to sit for 2 hours. Drain the water and rinse off the potatoes. Cover with water again and let sit for another 1-2 hours (the longer you let them sit, the crunchier they will get in the oven. You are removing the excess starch from the potatoes by doing this).
Preheat the oven to 450°F and line two large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Remove the potatoes from the water and dry very well with towels. Place on prepared baking sheets without overcrowding them. This allows for the air to circulate around the potato and creates crispiness. If you overcrowd the baking sheets, the potatoes will only steam. Drizzle the potato wedges with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the potato wedges over, and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. They should be browned and crispy.
Meanwhile, crisp the bacon in a large cast iron skillet. Crumble and reserve a little bit of the bacon grease in the skillet (I get rid of most of it but can't bring myself to wipe the skillet clean. It's BACON flavor!). Once the potatoes are done baking, remove from oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Place the fries in the skillet and top with the bacon, cheese, scallions, and jalapeños. I do this in layers: I put a layer of fries down, add half the toppings, and then top that with another layer of fries and another layer of the toppings.
Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and gooey. Serve immediately directly out of the skillet with ranch dressing on the side.
I do not peel my potatoes because I LOVE the flavor and texture of the crispy skin, but you can definitely peel them if you prefer skinless spuds. This method works for the nude frenchies as well.