#204 sweet potato fries

Oh, glory!  I’ve had a exquisite love affair with sweet potatoes ever since I tried them at approximately 8 months of age…I absolutely love the yummy tuberous root in all its shapes & forms!  My mother’s favorite way of making it was in a delicious sweet potato bake with cinnamon & sugar, and it was only natural for me to feel somewhat devastated when neither my husband nor my girls enjoyed the dish as much as I did!  I was destined to sail the sweet potato ship alone…

Until last night!  I really don’t know why I hadn’t thought about making fries out of my sweet potatoes, but it turns out everyone here loves fries & I’ve finally found a healthy & delicious way to eat our sweet potatoes!  The popular new recipe found in so many menus nowadays is a simple variation of French fries, using sweet potato instead of the regular potato.  As an added bonus, sweet potatoes are a much better & non-starchy carb and contain more vitamin C than regular ones, so this deliciously sweet & creamy snack is also a great healthy choice!

I can now say I am passionate about sweet potato fries, since I’ve seen the results of making them at home…the perfect balance of salty sweet perfection with a dollop of Greek yogurt was glorious!  The importance of baking & not frying is key.  Although I did fry a small batch on the side only for comparison purposes (also delicious if you ask me!), many of the essential vitamins such as A & C can be easily lost in the high heat of fry oil – which only counteracts the purpose of me wanting my kids to eat healthy sweet potatoes!  Although both white & sweet potatoes can be part of a healthy diet, frying should never really be an option.  Easy to conclude, homemade & baked is always the best way to go, and a great idea at that is to mix it up with both white & sweet potatoes!

Mushy sweet potato fries are a sad thing, however.  They can often turn out flimsy & limp, even though they have all the potential to be fantastic without deep frying, double soaking, twice baking, or anything else!  For the crispiest oven-baked sweet potatoes, the secret ingredient is cornstarch – that’s where the magic is!  Also, making baked sweet potato fries isn’t quite as easy as 1, 2, 3…but it’s pretty close!  Technically, you’ll be roasting them, not baking…and yet another key element: cut the potatoes as evenly as possible – the more uniform the fries, the more evenly they will bake; aim for 1/4-inch thickness.

For the Sweet Potato Fries:

  •  1 kg of sweet potatoes, (the more the merrier!)
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 12/ teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper – KEY: foil, wax paper, etc. will not work for crispiness!).  Also, be sure not to crowd your sweet potatoes…they are little divas like that – they need their space!  One baking sheet should be enough but you might need an additional one.

Place the cut sweet potato fries in a large zip-top bag and toss with the cornstarch.  You want a nice thin coating.  You can toss the potatoes with the cornstarch for a while and then pour the potatoes into a strainer to shake off the excess – I didn’t need to, though!  Add the the oil & seasonings to the zip-top bag and …shake, shake, shake!  Line the sweet potatoes evenly and making sure they aren’t touching, or else they won’t roast well, they’ll just steam.  This…takes…time…

After patiently laying what seems like a million fries, you’re finally ready to roast them!  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and begin the next eternal task of flipping them…one…by…one… When roasting, flip them ONCE, never more.  You might think that flipping or turning the sweet potato fries while they bake would make for more evenly cooked fries, but the coating needs time to set before you flip the fries.  Make sure to rotate the baking sheet in the oven as well to avoid uneven browning.  Bake for another 15 minutes.

When they finally look yummy (it’s OK if the edges get a little bit burnt) turn the oven off, open the oven door to let the steam out, and keep the fries inside as the oven cools down for as long as 30 minutes.  This step will help the fries get crispier.  Enjoy immediately with any dip you might be craving!

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