Wedge fries are our kind of “food fun,” combining qualities of fries and baked potatoes.
The outside is a golden crunch, the inside is soft and crumbly like a baked potato.
The wedges are cut into what one of our colleagues called “dill pickle shape.”
They can be baked or fried, seasoned with anything you like or left plain but for salt and pepper.
It seems that in the general category of wedge fries, there was a pioneer called the jojo (photos #5 and #6).
The jojo is a breaded potato wedge fried in a pressure fryer. They are often where fried chicken is served, because the same pressure fryer cooks both (separately, of course).
The resulting wedge has a “shatter-crispy outer layer” with a “precise texture…that mystically sets the jojo apart,” according to one connoisseur.
After these jojos became the rage—in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, a plainer potato wedge trickled down to with who do regular fat frying or bake their fries.
Several restaurant professionals claim to have invented the jojo.
Whoever the claimant might be, the ability to make jojos was created thanks to the new pressure fryers that food-service manufacturers were promoting in the mid-20th century.
One such was the Flavor-Crisp Pressure Fryer [source].
Three feet tall, it was a vast improvement over the open-air fryers, which required gallons of hot vegetable oil.
The pressure fryer used less oil, and the oil was temperature-controlled.
Thus, super-hot oil allowed chicken to be fried exceedingly quickly. The chicken retained more moisture that resulted in juicier meat.
It was a hit.
As the theory goes, cooks wondered what else they could throw into their new fryers, and potatoes were an obvious choice: Places that sold fried chicken invariably sold french fries.
A son of one of the founders said that his dad got the idea of pressure-frying lightly-breaded wedge-cut potatoes after learning the technique from a cook in Youngstown.
His cooks cut the potatoes in fours, but they were too thick to cook through the middle. Cutting them into eights became the way to go [source].
Another source claims that, beyond Ohio, the wedge fry also has roots in Portland, Oregon.
A food equipment company, Nicewonger sold Flavor-Crisp pressure fryers in Portland beginning in the 1950s. The founder’s son says that his father, Paul Nicewonger, was at a restaurant trade show demonstrating the pressure fryer in 1958. His booth happened to next to an Idaho potato booth.
Nicewonger took some of the Idaho russets, cut them up and pressure-fried them. Attendees who grabbing the samples and wanted to know what they were called. Nicewonger called them Jojos, later telling his son that it was the first thing that popped into his head.
Yet another claim comes from a former president of Ballantyne Strong of Nebraska, telling the exact same story—except he gave credit to a former Vice President, Ed Nelson, at a 1961 restaurant show in Chicago.
The truth is out there!
Just remember: If it’s not breaded and pressure-fried, it’s not a jojo [source].
How easy is it to make potato wedges? Just take a look.
Instead of the garlic/oregano/paprika mix below, you can blend equivalent amounts of any other seasoning (try 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped, and 2 minced garlic cloves).
Instead of the garlic salt in the recipe, remember to add regular salt and pepper.
You can add less cheese (e.g. 1 tablespoon), or no cheese. You know what you like, so have fun with it!
Ingredients For 4 Servings
1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Mix first 5 ingredients.
2. CUT each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges. Place in a parchment-lined pan, 15x10x1 inches. Spray the potatoes with cooking spray and sprinkle with the cheese mixture. (Note: Instead of cooking spray, we tossed the potatoes in vegetable oil before, then in the seasoning blend, before placing them in the pan.
3. BAKE until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Halfway through, flip the wedges.
Comments are closed.