August 19, 2022

why it works

  • Parboiling potatoes in alkaline water breaks down their surface, creating a starchy mush that gives the wedges a crispy crust when roasted.
  • Spraying a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray before coating it with vegetable oil prevents grease from building up and promotes even browning of the potatoes.

If restaurants priced menu items based on how difficult it was for diners to prepare those dishes at home, fries would quickly supplant caviar and blinis as a special occasion splurge. i like one good fries, but that love quickly fades if I’m the one responsible for frying and cleaning up the kitchen that ensues. It’s hard to justify the hassle at home, especially for something I can easily and cheaply enjoy at all sorts of food establishments within walking distance of my apartment. But what about home-cooked meals that really need a bunch of crispy, chewy fries? These provide an opportunity for air fryer evangelists to make their point, and I’m not here to disparage them. For those of us who don’t have the space or budget for another countertop appliance, there’s the classic, if often disappointing, baked potato wedge.

Potato wedges usually feel like a concession of defeat, an acceptance of the potato’s mediocrity. I know that jojos, the battered, pressure-fried wedges sold in chicken joints, have their die-hard fans, but I’ve yet to meet any dedicated oven-frying supporters. Part of this can be attributed to poor communication. It’s unfair to compare oven-roasted potatoes to fried potatoes: you can’t get identical results with such different cooking methods. But with the right technique, we can get close and we can make potato wedges with a crispy coating and a soft, chewy interior, without having to resort to frying.

Vicky Wasick

The simplest potato wedge recipes involve tossing raw potato wedges with oil and seasonings, spreading them on a baking sheet, and roasting them until tender. be golden. Unfortunately, this method does not give very good results. As with a classic French fry or roast potato, the time it takes for the center to be perfectly cooked and the time it takes for the outside to be nicely browned don’t line up. Either you end up with wedges that are undercooked in the middle or parched on the surface. Partially cooking the wedges before roasting is a must.

Following Kenji’s Plan for British Roast Potatoes seemed like the logical course of action here. Boil the potatoes in alkaline water to help break down the surface of the wedges, then mix them aggressively in a bowl to roughen them up and develop a starchy mashed potato that crunches when roasted. With smaller chunks of potato, this method works wonders, but in the first few rounds of testing, too many of my wedges ended up breaking into potato chunks.

I tried a gentler approach, scraping the surface of the blanched potatoes with a fork to develop the starchy coating rather than tossing them into a bowl. It seemed too difficult, but it also didn’t produce the kind of crust I was looking for. Next, I tried coating raw, blanched wedges with potato starch and cornstarch mush to see if they could provide the right crispy exterior. They certainly get crispy results, but the starch suspension coatings had an artificial glassy feel that felt out of place and designed for what should be a plain side.

Vicky Wasick

I went back to our roast potato method, with a simple modification: I reduced the initial blanching time as much as possible, simmering the potatoes just long enough to soften their surfaces, but keeping the center firm enough that the quarters can withstand a little roughness. treatment. Seven minutes did the trick, giving the wedges the texture of a poached pear firm in the middle. After mixing them to develop this coating, I arrange them on a generously oiled baking sheet. Spreading oil on the baking sheet, rather than tossing the potatoes with grease in the bowl, gives the wedges a more fried crust, as the pieces cook in an even layer of oil in the oven. To make sure the oil is evenly distributed on the baking sheet, I borrowed a tip from my former colleague at America’s Test Kitchen, Lan Lam, who discovered that spraying a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray before oiling it kept grease from building up. on the tray. The lecithin in the cooking spray, which acts as a surfactant, keeps the oil in an even layer.

All I had to do was roast the potatoes over high heat until golden brown on one side, then flip them over to their second flat side and cook them until let them be golden. With Yukon Golds, the interior achieves a pudding-like creaminess that doesn’t translate well to oven frying. But with fruit bats, you get the perfect balance of a crispy shell and a tender chewy interior. It may not be a real fry, but it’s pretty, pretty good.