Presently this six-foot-fi ve father of three strapping teenage boys effortlessly turns out delicious meals day in and day out for his own family. His sons are athletes who eat a ton—but their meals are always fresh and prepared with love. When our extended families gather to prepare a meal, their father is always at the forefront, planning and executing. My parents taught all three of my brothers to cook and eat well, but Jim has perfected my mom’s specialty—a twist on oven fries originated by our Italian relatives. Everyone goes crazy for them, and there are never enough!
- 6 or 7 Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/3-inch-thick French fry-style strips, soaked in cold water
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or some combo of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, and basil
- 2 cups freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, cut into 6 cubes
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Spread 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on each of 2 rimmed baking sheets and spread out the potatoes. Overlapping is fine.
- Sprinkle the dried herbs evenly over the potatoes. Liberally spread the cheese and parsley on top. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the cheese. Scatter the cubed butter around the pans.
- Bake until the potatoes are golden brown, rotating the pans after 30 minutes, for 45 to 50 minutes total. Use a spatula to lift off the potatoes with all the crusty cheese adhered to them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Potato Prep: For a French-fry cut, peel the potatoes and slice lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Stack the slices on top of one another, a few at a time, and slice lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick strips. Peeled and sliced potatoes can turn brown pretty quickly. To avoid this, try floating the peeled, cut pieces in cold, salted water. When you're ready to cook, drain them and pat dry.