Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sweet Potato French Fries

"Have you ever had sweet potato french fries?" my friend Joe asked me as we drove through Mbabane to his apartment to make dinner, winding up the hill on Somhlolo Road in the approaching dusk.

I told him that I had not.  "I think we need to make sweet potato french fries tonight," he said, grinning.

Sweet potatoes as we know them in the U.S. are not really available here in Swaziland, with the most common varieties being white on the inside and much more starchy, like a regular potato, whereas our sweet potatoes resemble butternut squash.  Joe has been working with an orphanage in Nhlangano, in the southern part of Swaziland, and the couple that runs it has a farm on their property where they grow our kind of sweet potatoes.  And every time Joe goes down there, he told me, they give him some to take back with him.

He showed me how to slice the potato into thick wedges, and then he mixed together olive oil and spices to coat them, and stuck them in the oven.  Although they are baked, they sit in a good amount of olive oil, so they end up being more deep fried than anything.  If you like sweet potatoes, you will absolutely love these fries.  They bake up crispy on the outside and deliciously soft on the inside, with the coating a perfect complement to their flavor. Warning: it's quite likely that you will not be able to stop eating them and will wish you had made more once they're gone.

The link to the original recipe can be found by clicking here.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t coriander
1 t kosher salt
1 t parsley
fresh ground pepper (about 10 turns of a pepper mill)
2 tbsp. Treacle or brown sugar (Joe’s own addition)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with raised edges lightly with cooking spray.
Slice your sweet potatoes into french fry shape and size, about ¼” or a bit bigger. Cutting them larger will sometimes result in a big soggy mess, so stay small to get the best results.  Make sure that they are all about the same size so they will cook evenly.
Mix the spices into the olive oil and drizzle over the fries to coat them all and place them onto the cookie sheet.  Be sure that they are not touching each other!  Then pour any excess oil into the bottom of the cookie sheet.
Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes without opening the oven door.  Flip the fries over, and then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Serve plain or with the yogurt dip that is featured on the page with the original recipe.  (If you're dairy free as well, I imagine you could substitute your favorite non-dairy yogurt for the one in the recipe and it would taste practically the same.)

To find out more about how awesome Joe is or to thank him for the fabulousness that is this recipe, check out his facebook page.

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