I have a terrible confession to make. Even the most loyal of friends shrink away from my when I admit this to them. I'm a food-lover, obviously. And, on my dad's side, I come from a long line of what he proudly describes as "faceless Irish peasants." And yet...here it is:
I. Hate. Potatoes.
Still there? Good. I'm glad you could forgive me. I don't know what it is about them, really. They've just never appealed. I can eat them to be polite, of course. But given my druthers, I'd rather be far away from those dirty spuds in all their forms. Mashed, baked, au gratin, I'll pass on em all. Even, to the cause of great shame and strife, french fries. Some fries are palatable, but the ones I like are cut so thin and cooked so crispy that you can't even tell they were once potatoes. The thick-cut steak fries that make most folks drool? No way.
However, I've found myself a fantastic substitute for french fries - both much more pleasant to my (admittedly strange) tastes, and considerably less guilt-ridden: sweet potato fries! It might be a bit of a misnomer to call these fries, since they're entirely oven-baked, but I figure being made of potato and roughly fry-shaped qualifies them. If you'd rather call them Baked Rectangle-ish Sweet Potato Finger-Food Side-Dishes, I guess that's fine.
In any case, let's get to it! Here's the cast of characters:
Yams, salt, and pepper are the basics. Yeah, I know, the recipe is titled "Sweet Potato" and I'm using Yams. Sweet potatoes work, too, but I happen to like yams better. Some supermarkets even sell yams as sweet potatoes. Whichever you end up with, the process will be the same.
You can add most anything you like to those and it'll likely be delicious. My personal favorite combination is a spicy-sweet mix of Cinnamon, Cumin, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Cayenne.
Preheat your oven to 400 and pull out a baking pan (or two). Spread some foil over the top and give it a good long spray with some Pam - these buggers will stick if you let em.
Lots of chopping to do! The size of your fries is really up to you. I like them relatively thin and crispy, so I shoot for 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and 3-5 inches long. If you're more of a soft-and-fluffy person, by all means, cut thicker!
Now season it up! You'll be tempted to use way too much of everything, but I wouldn't use more than, say, a teaspoon of each seasoning across all of the fries. The sweet potatoes themselves are plenty flavorful! No need to aim carefully - go ahead and just sprinkle all over the place. The seasoning that sits on the foil can help coat the other side of the fries when we turn them halfway through.
Now into the oven! Check on them in 15-20 minutes.
They'll look about like this. Starting to get brown and smell delicious. We're halfway there! Carefully use the same foil-folding method you used to coat with oil to get the fries flipped. A spatula works fine, too, but it's likely to tear the foil up.
Now back into the oven for another 10-20 minutes. If your fries were looking particularly brown, you might turn the oven down to 325-350 at this point, or just bake closer to 10 minutes for the second round. Depending on the thickness of the cut and the particular spuds you're using, they can be done considerably quicker or more slowly.
If you're anything like me, you're getting terribly impatient at this point. I suggest distracting yourself by making some cheeseburgers!
Start checking the fries after another 10 minutes or so. They'll probably be getting close, and if you reaaaally want to, you could just eat them at this point. Trust me, though, they're way better if you let them get crispier. They'll look suspiciously like they've burnt, but I promise they haven't.
When they're about this brown, pull em out. Conveniently enough, I find my burgers are generally a perfect medium-rare by the time the fries are ready.
Serve a generous pile alongside your burgers. Devour promptly.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Fries
Prep Time: 5-10 Minutes | Cook Time: 30-45 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 4-6.
- 2-3 Large Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
- 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1-2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- .5 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- .5 teaspoon Cinnamon
- .5 teaspoon Cumin
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover one or two large cookie sheets with foil and grease.
Wash and chop sweet potatoes down into fries, about 1/2-by-1/2-by-4 inches. Uneven pieces are no problem. Coat sweet potato pieces with 1 tbsp of oil and toss by folding the foil over gently.
Sprinkle seasonings over the sweet potato pieces. Excess seasonings on the foil will coat the fries when they are flipped halfway through baking.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, checking and flipping the fries after 20 minutes.