My husband and I have an ongoing battle about sweet potatoes. He’s obsessed, I’m not. While I acknowledge their supposedly great health benefits, I never liked their sweet taste and mushy texture. Last fall, though, Fine Cooking came out with an article about sweet potatoes in which the writer explains exactly why sweet potatoes should not be boiled:
“They have a high moisture content. Dry-heat cooking methods like roasting, baking, and sautéing reduce that moisture, making them dense and more concentrated in flavour, and promoting the caramelization of their sugars. Moist-heat methods like steaming and simmering add liquid, resulting in soggy sweet potatoes with a wan flavour.” [Dec 11/Jan 12 issue]
Soggy and wan: that’s exactly what I’ve been getting at all along, though I didn’t know how to articulate it! So now I’m happy to eat sweet potatoes, as long as they are not boiled. As a result, we’ve discovered some really great recipes. This one here is now my husband’s latest favourite, and he can whip them up in a flash. They never last long because they’re so tasty, and the dipping sauce is pretty much to die for. We always double the recipe, at least, because once we start eating the oven fries, we can’t stop.
Ingredients: 1 lb sweet potatoes (about 1 large); 2 large egg whites; 1 tsp smoked paprika; 1/2 tsp ground cumin; kosher salt; 1/4 cup mayonnaise; 2 tbsp ketchup; 1 tsp lemon juice; 1/2 tsp soy sauce; 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce; 2 drops hot sauce, such as Sriracha
Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat it to 425 F. Grease two baking sheets.
Peel and cut the potatoes into approximately 2-inch lengths, and then cut each piece lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide slices. Lay the slices flat and cut them into 1/4-inch strips, so you have 1/4 x 1/4 x 2-inch sticks.
Whisk the egg whites with the smoked paprika, cumin, and 1 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Toss the potatoes in the mixture to thoroughly coat. Spread them on the baking sheets in a single layer so that they’re not touching.
Roast the potatoes until sizzling and starting to brown on the bottom, about 10 minutes. With a spatula, carefully loosen the fries and shake the baking sheet to flip them. Rotate the placement of the baking sheets in the oven and continue to bake until the fries are lightly browned, sizzling vigourously, and tender all the way through, another 8 to 9 minutes. Sprinkle to taste with more salt.
Meanwhile, make the fry sauce. In a small bowl, stir the mayonnaise, ketchup, lemon juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Adjust the seasonings until the sauce tastes zesty but balanced.
Serve the oven fries immediately with the fry sauce.
[From Fine Cooking, Dec 11/Jan 12 issue]