~Oven-Roasted Caribbean-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries~
Sweet potatoes can be cooked via all the same methods all-purpose spuds can. Baked, boiled, pan-fried, grilled, oven-roasted, microwaved, and, last but not least, deep-fried. When it comes to sweet potatoes, I am a bone fide lover of this healthy super-food, and, when it comes to cooking and eating them, I love them in any form, any time of year. I am an equal-opportunity sweet potato eater. Oven-roasted sweet potato fries, which pair great with so many things (especially poultry and pork) are easy to make, but I'm not going to lie, if they're not prepared correctly, "just so", they can be downright disappointing -- limp and lackluster. It's exasperating. It wasn't until I started tossing them with a bit of cornstarch (in addition to the dry spices), then a bit more cornstarch, then a bit more, that I landed on my "secret formula" for seriously-crispy oven fries.
A bit about sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes were introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus, who brought them from the island of St. Thomas, where this large, edible root (which belongs to the morning glory family) is native to the tropical regions of the Americas. There are many varieties of sweet potato, but the two most commercially grown are: a pale-skinned sweet potato and a dark-skinned variety (that many Americans erroneously call "yam" -- the true yam is not even related to the sweet potato). The pale sweet potato has a thin, light-yellow skin and pale yellow flesh. Its flavor is not sweet, and after cooking, it's dry and crumbly, similar to that of a Russet potato. The darker variety has a thicker, dark orange skin and vivid orange, sweet flesh. When cooked, it has a very sweet flavor and almost creamy texture and it's the only kind I use.
2 tablespoons each: cornstarch and light brown sugar
1 teaspoon each: allspice and ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each: cayenne pepper, ground ginger, sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend
*Note: Do not overcrowd the potatoes on the baking pan, meaning: if you want to double this recipe, use two baking pans.
~ Step 1. I like the classic "fry shape": about 1/2" thick, 3"-3 1/2" long, square-tipped and boxy-looking. Why? Pointy tips burn. I don't like fries with burnt ends. Using a sharp knife, trim the left and right ends from each potato, peel and slice ("fry-cut") as directed.
~ Step 2. Place the sweet potatoes in a 1-gallon food storage bag. Add the cornstarch and the dry spices. Toss to thoroughly and evenly coat potatoes in the dry mixture. Add the vegetable oil and toss again, until the potatoes look glistening and wet, with no dry, powdery spots.
Generously sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a coarse grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend.
~ Step 4. Transfer the sliced and seasoned sweet potato fries to the prepared pan. Using your fingertips, take a moment or two to make sure they are all positioned in a single layer with none of them touching.
Sprinkle another (this time lighter) grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend evenly over all.
Remove from oven. Using a large spoon or spatula, a few at time, scoop 'em up and flip 'em over.
Return to the oven and continue to roast, about 15 more minutes, or until the sweet potato fries are golden brown and caramelized around the edges.
Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate & serve A.S.A.P.
Special Equipment List: Cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; spatula; paper towels
Cook's Note: I like to serve my Caribbean spiced sweet potato fries with my recipe for ~ Joe's Caribbean Chicken Dog w/Joe's Island Salsa ~ which you can find by clicking on this link or in KE Categories 2, 10, 11, 17 or 20.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)