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Salt and vinegar oven-baked fries

Salt and vinegar oven fries with garlic aioli recipe

An ex-girlfriend first introduced salt and vinegar potato chips to me years ago and I remember thinking at the time that she must have uncovered the single worst snack idea ever conceived. Surely, she was only offering me one of her chips in jest. You know, the same way you might stop on the SyFy channel when your lazily flipping through the channels — you just want to watch a few seconds of Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid or Axe Giant – The Wrath of Paul Bunyan just to see how truly awful they are*. Food science and marketing made a Sharktopus and she just wanted me to taste how truly awful it was.

Except she seemed to actually be enjoying them…

So, I tasted one. It was so much worse than I thought it was going to be. If you’ve never felt what it’s like to have millions of taste buds cry out in terror and then suddenly be silenced, then you’ve never had a salt and vinegar potato chip. It’s so overpowering the first time, that it makes your whole face pucker and distort to the point that you become legitimately concerned your face might actually collapse into itself — as if you had just eaten a incredibly dense sour singularity that was going to suck your face and maybe the entire planet right into it.

Was this girl crazy? Why would she…? Who could possibly…? Are these even legal? And… And may I please have another one?  Turns out she wasn’t crazy at all. Salt and vinegar chips are just insanely addictive. You have to be willing to sacrifice a few tastebuds, but once you try one, there’s no going back. Then one day, writing a post on salt and vinegar oven fries, you’ll suddenly realize that you haven’t eaten a potato chip in the last decade that wasn’t salt and vinegar flavored. And you won’t care in the least. Because why would you? They make every other potato chip taste like Communion wafers (which you can buy on Amazon, by the way, if you’re thinking of starting up a sect).

Well, long story short, that first girlfriend was a long time ago and I have since been fortunate enough to find a soulmate who just happens to be more obsessed with salt and vinegar potato chips than I am. Salt and vinegar fries were inevitable. We soak our fries in a vinegar brine instead of just dusting the cooked fries with vinegar powder because that would make them un-dippable and fries are made to be dipped. The brine gives the fries a deeper, more subtle sourness than the powder does and are far more suitable for dipping into garlic aioli, say. The fries are baked in the oven so we can feel a little less guilty about that garlic aioli.

* They are Superman-flying-around-the-earth-to-reverse-time-terrible. Farming out the CGI to middle school computer labs is the only plausible explanation for the wretched special effects. You’d think by now they’d have at least gotten decent animating sharks but apparently eighth-graders already have a lot their plate. The dialogue is so gut-wrenchingly bad, that if they had one of those commercials with Sarah Mclachlan, I would sponsor one of those poor, abused actors in the SyFy movies. For just a few cents a day, you could adopt one of the actors from a SyFy movie of your choice and they would send you an autographed picture and weekly letters about their ongoing job search. Nobody would ever have to be the Mansquito again. Isn’t that really what we all want?

Image: ForkingSpoon



Salt and vinegar oven fries with garlic aioli recipe

Yields8 Servings

These salt and vinegar oven fries served with a garlic aioli will make you wonder why you ever bothered with soggy french fries and ketchup.

Prep Time20 minsCook Time35 minsTotal Time55 mins

Ingredients

FOR THE SALT AND VINEGAR OVEN FRIES
 8 cups water
 2 cups white vinegar
 10 ½ tablespoons sea salt (divided)
 5 russet potatoes  (about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
FOR THE GARLIC AIOLI
 1 cup mayonnaise
 3 cloves garlic, grated
 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
 ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

FOR THE SALT AND VINEGAR OVEN FRIES
1

Make a brine
In a large pot over medium to high heat, bring the water to a simmer. Remove the water from the heat and whisk in the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt until the salt has completely dissolved. Let cool.

2

Prepare the potatoes
Cut each potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (older potatoes work best). Place the slices flat against the cutting board and cut the potatoes lengthwise 1/4-inch-thick slices again, trying to keep the fries as uniformly sized as possible. Place the cut potatoes into the salt and vinegar brine and soak for 1 hour. Russet potatoes are the best choice for crispy fries because of their high starch content and low moisture (lower moisture is also why older potatoes tend to crisp better).

3

Dry the fries
Place the fries in a colander and rinse to remove excess starch. Pat the fries dry with a tea towel (paper towels will work too). The fries need to be as dry as possible for the best results. Adjust 1 rack to the bottom position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. The bottom rack will crisp the fries more effectively as it heats the underside of the baking sheet more efficiently and allows more steam to circulate away.

4

Cook the fries
Preheat the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, toss the fries in peanut (or canola) oil with the remaining sea salt until the fries are completely coated. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the fries in a single layer being careful not to overcrowd the fries. Cook the fries for 30 to 35 minutes until they're cooked all the way through and are golden brown and crispy. While the fries are cooking, flip the fries over about halfway through the cooking process and open the oven door occasionally to let some of the steam out.

FOR THE GARLIC AIOLI
5

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and garlic until they are completely incorporated. Set aside.


Notes

If you want to try french fries sprinkled with vinegar powder instead of soaking them in a vinegar brine, a pound of the stuff is relatively inexpensive.

Ingredients

FOR THE SALT AND VINEGAR OVEN FRIES
 8 cups water
 2 cups white vinegar
 10 ½ tablespoons sea salt (divided)
 5 russet potatoes  (about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
FOR THE GARLIC AIOLI
 1 cup mayonnaise
 3 cloves garlic, grated
 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
 ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

FOR THE SALT AND VINEGAR OVEN FRIES
1

Make a brine
In a large pot over medium to high heat, bring the water to a simmer. Remove the water from the heat and whisk in the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt until the salt has completely dissolved. Let cool.

2

Prepare the potatoes
Cut each potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (older potatoes work best). Place the slices flat against the cutting board and cut the potatoes lengthwise 1/4-inch-thick slices again, trying to keep the fries as uniformly sized as possible. Place the cut potatoes into the salt and vinegar brine and soak for 1 hour. Russet potatoes are the best choice for crispy fries because of their high starch content and low moisture (lower moisture is also why older potatoes tend to crisp better).

3

Dry the fries
Place the fries in a colander and rinse to remove excess starch. Pat the fries dry with a tea towel (paper towels will work too). The fries need to be as dry as possible for the best results. Adjust 1 rack to the bottom position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. The bottom rack will crisp the fries more effectively as it heats the underside of the baking sheet more efficiently and allows more steam to circulate away.

4

Cook the fries
Preheat the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, toss the fries in peanut (or canola) oil with the remaining sea salt until the fries are completely coated. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the fries in a single layer being careful not to overcrowd the fries. Cook the fries for 30 to 35 minutes until they're cooked all the way through and are golden brown and crispy. While the fries are cooking, flip the fries over about halfway through the cooking process and open the oven door occasionally to let some of the steam out.

FOR THE GARLIC AIOLI
5

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and garlic until they are completely incorporated. Set aside.

Salt and vinegar oven fries with garlic aioli


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