I have this rule, and maybe you do too: I will only eat a french fry if it is really worth it. Lackluster taters from the drive-thru window are not worth my time. Bags of fries do not get a second glance as I maneuver my cart through the grocery store's freezer aisle. Limp deli fries encroaching on my lunch-hour sandwich? No thanks. But show me a basket piled high with hand-cut, freshly fried, intensely seasoned garlic Parmesan fries and I feel weak in the knees.
I used to think there was a top-secret formula for salty, savory garlic Parmesan fries only distributed to restaurant chefs (and there might be), but I'm here to show you that with a handful of good-quality ingredients and a few strategic steps you too can serve restaurant-quality garlic Parmesan fries from the comfort of your own home.
The key to homemade, baked garlic Parmesan fries is a simple two-step cooking process. After slicing your potatoes to size, blanch them in salted water for a few minutes to start the cooking process. Par-cooking the fries is an essential step that should not be skipped; it is how oven-baked fries get a crisp crust with a light, fluffy interior. A quick dip in an ice bath stops the cooking process.
Douse the dried par-cooked potatoes with oil to help the seasoning mix stick. Then use finely grated Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, and garlic powder for the flavor boost. Choose garlic powder for even coverage and intense flavor, and to avoid burning (an unfortunate side effect of cooking minced garlic at high temperatures). Bake the fries until golden and crisp, or do what I do and freeze several batches for desperate times. Master these fries, and the servers at the local steakhouse will wonder where you've gone.
Get Your Fill of Fries
Garlic Parmesan Fries
Serves 4 to 6
(2 quarts) water
russet potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
grated Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
chopped fresh parsley leaves
Ketchup, for serving (optional)
Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 425°F. Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water; set aside.
You can peel the potatoes if desired, but the skins add texture and flavor to the fries. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks. Stack 2 of these planks on top of each other, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick sticks or batons.
Add 1/4 of the potatoes to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the blanched potatoes to the ice water bath to shock the potatoes and halt the cooking process. Continue blanching and shocking potatoes in 3 more batches.
Remove the chilled potatoes from the ice bath and spread them into a single layer on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Pat completely dry with more paper towels or another kitchen towel. Transfer to a large bowl.
Mix the Parmesan, salt, and garlic powder together in a small bowl. Drizzle the oil over the potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle the Parmesan mixture over the fries and toss again until evenly coated.
Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. Transfer the fries to the baking sheets and arrange in a single layer. Bake, flipping the fries halfway through, until golden-brown, 25 to 28 minutes. Transfer the fries to a serving bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot with ketchup if desired.
Make ahead: Freeze the blanched and seasoned fries in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet until solid, 6 hours or overnight. Transfer to a gallon zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Bake fries from frozen at 425°F for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through baking.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat at 425°F for 5 minutes, or until crisp.
Store-bought option: You can use 1 (28-ounce) bag frozen shoestring fries instead of fresh potatoes. Increase the oil to 3 tablespoons and decrease the salt to 1 teaspoon. Toss frozen fries with the oil and the garlic-Parmesan seasoning. Spread into a single layer on 2 ungreased sheet pans and bake for 13 to 15 minutes at 450°F.