We love our fries, here at the Dinner … by Susan household.

But we don’t love deep-frying. So for years, I’ve made oven-baked “frites.”

They’re fine, but let’s not kid ourselves. Oven-blasted French fries are limp little affairs. Doused with salt and slathered with ketchup, we could almost convince ourselves they were the real thing.

But not quite.

Now, though … Hallelujah! Just two, tiny tweaks elevated last night’s oven-baked potatoes into “are-you-sure-these-aren’t-fried?” territory:

  • Reduce the size of the potatoes.
  • Soak the bejesus out of them.

The techniques come courtesy of former Chez Panisse Chef David Lebovitz but are so simple they made me give a proverbial thunk to my head and think, “Duh.”

No matter. Now that I know the secret to crisp French fries, I’ll never covet a deep-fryer again!

Perfect Oven Fries (“My Paris Kitchen”)

  • 3 pounds potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Assorted herbs

Peel and slice the potatoes into 1/3-inch sticks.

Fill a pan with cold water and lightly salt it. Place the potato sticks in the water and let them soak for 1 hour.

After their soak, drain the potatoes and dry them thoroughly.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place the potatoes in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Pour the olive oil over them, then sprinkle with the salt and a tablespoon or so of minced fresh herbs. (I used rosemary and thyme.)

Toss the potatoes well, then redistribute them to make sure they’re in a single layer. Use two sheet pans if you have to.

Bake for 50 minutes, stirring the potatoes and turning the pans every 10-15 minutes. Be sure to serve them hot!