Rarely do I make plans months in advance, and rarely do said plans occur on a Tuesday evening. But when I heard that Deb Perelman (the mastermind behind the awesome blog, Smitten Kitchen) would be speaking and signing books at the Hennepin County Library, I marked my calendar and informed my boss that I had be out of work at 5pm, on the dot. And friends, that day is finally here. This Tuesday, my claustrophobia and I will be holed up in an auditorium with 250 other Minnesotans to hear this charming lady talk about food. Based on the recipes of hers that I have tried, I know it’s going to be worth it.
Due to this long-anticipated occasion, it’s only appropriate that we talk about her amazing recipe for Tarragon Oven Fries, which inspired the recipe below. With proper preparation, the potatoes become browned, buttery, and packed with fresh flavor. Deb is right—the best herb to pair them with is tarragon, but I find it fun to use whichever fresh herbs I have on hand. Just dedicate your attention to baking the potatoes with tender care, then let the heat of the fries straight out of the oven work their magic.
I must warn you that these fries are not for the unmotivated cook. They require strict attention and frequent inspection in order to achieve the perfect, crispy-caramelized, buttery-infused French fry texture. I have made many meals alongside this recipe, which on numerous occasions have remained complete and covered in aluminum foil while the potatoes finish their fussy preparations. It may sound like too much work, and some evenings it is. But not once have I regretted slaving over my stove for these French fries, and no one has ever fussed about waiting for them. In fact, the only complaint I have ever received is that I never make enough of them at a time.
Herbed Yukon Gold Oven Fries
Inspired by and adapted from the wonderful recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, sliced into matchsticks
3 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp fresh herbs of preference, chopped (great options include fresh tarragon, fresh rosemary, fresh basil, fresh chives, sliced scallions, or a mixture of these)
Preheat oven to 450. Soak matchsticks in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, place two baking sheets in oven for 3-5 minutes to heat. Remove from oven and spray with cooking spray, then divide matchsticks evenly between both baking sheets. Drizzle 1.5 tbsp olive oil over each baking sheet of potatoes, then sprinkle with desired amount of salt and pepper. The potatoes will bake for 43-45 minutes total, and will need flipping and redistributing at 10 minutes, 25 minutes, and again at 40 minutes. After redistributing at the 40-minute mark, turn the oven to broil and return potatoes to oven for another 3-5 minutes, until potatoes have browned perfectly and have a crisp outer texture. Remove from oven and place fries in a bowl. Sprinkle with whatever herbs you are using, as well as additional sea salt, then mix and serve.