By this point, I think we’ve established that I am a big fan of carbs – you know, like pasta, and risotto, and muffins. CARBS ARE MY FRIENDS. One of my favorite sources of carbs has always been the potato. I will take them in any incarnation you can dream up – mashed, fried, baked, so on and so forth. I am powerless against the siren song of a potato. However, despite my undying love for potatoes, until about 4 or 5 years ago, I was quite certain that I did not like sweet potatoes, despite the fact that I had never EATEN one. Whatever, no one ever said I was logical. I can’t remember what inspired me to finally try a sweet potato, but I was a huge fan (starchy potato goodness + sugary sweetness = DUH). Since then I have enjoyed using sweet potatoes in all kinds of ways – mashed, baked and filled with delicious toppings, roasted, and baked into fries, just to name a few. They are just as versatile as regular white potatoes – but with the added benefit of being full of beta carotene, vitamin C, and fiber, so you can feel very virtuous about eating them.
One of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes is to bake them into fries. I like to coat them with a slightly spicy spice mixture to balance out the sweetness a little bit, but you can change them up however you want to suit your tastes!
Now, before you dive into the world of cooking with sweet potatoes, I would like to insert a little PSA here: regardless of what you cook and how often, you should be sharpening your knives ON THE REGULAR. You do not need a fancy knife sharpener; all you need is the steel that came with your knife block (you know, the sword-looking thingy?). If you don’t know how to use a sharpening steel, I would suggest either checking out some youtube videos, or spending an evening on the couch watching some cooking competitions on Bravo and the Food Network. Thirty seconds of sharpening your knives a couple times a week will make chopping (and therefore, COOKING) 100 times easier, I swear. I bring this up, because… SOMEONE expressed to me that she does not cook with sweet potatoes, because they are too hard to cut. At which point I asked if she ever sharpens her knives, and, as you might imagine, I was appropriately horrified by the answer. So, please, for the love of all things holy, just sharpen your knives, okay? Okay.
Baked Sweet Potato fries
Serves 2-4, depending on portion size (in my house, it serves 2)
2 medium size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into fry shapes
1 T olive oil
1 t kosher salt
1/4 – 1/2 t chipotle chili powder (depending on how much smoke/spice you like)
1/4 t garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Start by peeling your sweet potatoes, and cutting off the ends. Then, to make the cutting easier, I like to give my sweet potatoes “feet”. All that means is you cut a thin slice of potato off one side (having a very sharp knife helps with this), so that the potato sits firmly on your cutting board, and doesn’t roll around. This will make slicing it WAY easier, and greatly decrease the likelihood that you’ll take off a finger.
2.) Once you’ve given your potato feet, slice it lengthwise into about 1/2″ thick slabs. Then, cut each of those sweet potato slabs into 1/2″ fries. My personal preference is to discard the misshapen ends from the slabs, because they will cook unevenly (and I am a touch fastidious about things being uniform when it comes to cooking. Judge me if you must). However, you can totally keep them and just know that you’ll have a few fries that get extra brown and a little dry.
3.) Once all your potatoes are cut into fries, put them in a big pile on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil (non-stick foil, if you have it). Pour your olive oil over them, as well as your spices. Use your hands to toss the potatoes with the oil and spices, until everything is evenly coated, and then spread them out into a single layer on your baking sheet.
4.) Pop them into the oven. After about 15-20 minutes, flip all the fries. If you try to flip them, and they are sticking to the foil, give them another couple minutes. Once they’ve sufficiently browned on the first side, you should have no problem flipping them. Bake them for another 15-20 minutes once they’ve been flipped, until they’re nice and brown. (If they look like they’re getting dry but not really browning, you can always turn on the broiler for the last minute or two in the oven.)
5.) Serve them with a dipping sauce of your choice. I prefer barbecue sauce or mayo (I KNOW, but just try it, ok?), but they’re also delicious with ketchup, or just plain.
These make a great side for sandwiches, or burgers, or just as a snack on their own. One of the best parts about them is that they only take about 5 minutes of active prep time, so you’re not spending 45 minutes making a side dish for your dinner, or a snack to eat while watching a movie. And they’re totally delicious, and healthy to boot. SCORE!
No, seriously, SHARPEN YOUR KNIVES,