Oven-fried potatoes are potatoes that are cooked on a baking sheet in a hot oven in a way that uses very little oil, develops some surface texture and allows the inside of the potatoes to cook fully without burning the outside. The combination of a small amount of oil, a high-heat oven, and a hot cooking surface such as a metal baking sheet can simulate the results of pan frying with less effort, less oil and more consistent heat around the potatoes. Such potatoes are frequently cut into thick wedges, although they also can be cubed, sliced into discs, or made into French fries. The final results are less greasy than potatoes that have been pan fried or deep fried.
The difference between oven-fried potatoes and baked or roasted potatoes is the heat of the oven. Baking sliced potatoes for a long time at moderate heat can eventually dry the potatoes out so that, once they have cooled, they could become very hard and nearly inedible. Oven-fried potatoes are cooked at very high heat for a shorter amount of time. Another difference is that the baking sheet or pan is actually part of the baking process, assisting in the distribution of heat and browning the surface of the potatoes touching it.
The process of making oven-fried potatoes begins by cutting the tubers into whatever shape is desired. The type of potato used does not matter too much and also can include sweet potatoes. Potatoes that have a large amount of starch can be soaked in water and dried before being cooked.
The pan or baking sheet that is going to be used for cooking is prepared by spreading butter, oil or a baking spray on the surface. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, paprika or chili powder can be sprinkled over the greased surface and will be evenly transferred to the potatoes while they cook. If olive oil is being used, cloves of garlic can be placed in the pan and will flavor the oil while slowly roasting. Once prepared, the pan is placed into the oven to heat up. The potatoes also can be tossed in a little oil or butter.
After the pan is hot, it is taken out of the oven and the potatoes are placed on the surface in a single layer with one of the flat, cut sides facing down. They will immediately start to sizzle and cook in the hot oil. The pan is then placed back in the oven and the potatoes cooked until done. Oven-fried potatoes should be turned at least once while cooking so all the flat surfaces have a period of time in contact with the cooking surface. If the potatoes begin to burn before they are finished, frequent turning can help to redistribute the heat.