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I've been making oven fries for many years. My method: wash potatoes (Russet), dry, cut, toss with olive oil and sometimes seasoning like paprika, no salt, bake in hot oven on low rack, turn with spatula 2/3 way through. Result: nicely browned, crispy fries. Inside is fully cooked yet firm.

I recently saw a recipe for oven fries with a spice blend I decided to try: paprika, pressed garlic, salt, pepper, rice flour, olive oil, all mixed together and tossed on potatoes. Otherwise, exact same method of prep and cooking. (The recipe said either rice flour or semolina or bread crumbs.) The result is they look beautiful on the outside and the flavor is great but they are not crispy and inside the potato is mushy. There was nothing else cooking in the oven that could've caused excessive moisture.

Rather than experimenting to try to figure out why they are so different, I thought I'd ask: What is it about this new blend of seasonings that is preventing the fries from getting crisp and making the inside mushy?

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  • Garlic powder or a pressed fresh clove? The latter has moisture. – Damila Apr 15 '20 at 19:01
  • I suspect the rice flour is absorbing the water from the potatoes and getting "gluey" on the outside, trapping moisture. – AMtwo Apr 15 '20 at 20:03
  • Pressed garlic (fresh) – Arlo Apr 15 '20 at 20:03
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I would guess that the rice flour is the culprit. The flour is absorbing the cold olive oil before the oil is able to fry it. If you were deep frying, the hot oil would crisp the flour before it was able to absorb the oil.

Whoever wrote the recipe was probably adapting a recipe for traditional fries to work in an oven and forgot to leave out the flour. Luckily rice flour is completely flavorless, so doing away with it shouldn't affect the taste at all.

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  • I know that rice flour (above all other flours) is recommended to bread bakers for sprinkling in a banneton basket to prevent the dough from sticking during the final proof. The reason is that it doesn't absorb moisture like other flours do. I add this just as a point of interest. Maybe the olive oil is just too much for it, so it does absorb it. I do think the recipe was tested before published, but maybe the author just likes mushy fries! I might try semolina or bread crumbs to see if the result is different. I think the purpose is to give a light coating with the seasoning. – Arlo Apr 16 '20 at 2:49
  • I think this answer is right, but I also think AMtwo's comment about the rice flour absorbing the water in the potatoes is a possibility. Whichever it is, the concept that the rice flour is absorbing moisture and preventing crispness seems to make sense. Thanks for everyone. – Arlo Apr 27 '20 at 22:51

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