My Family’s Recipe for Oven-baked Sweet Potato Fries: Crisp, Cheery, Comfortable
Fries do not have to be deep fried, and they also do not have to be made from potatoes. A tasty alternative to deep fried potatoes is oven-baked sweet potato fries.
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are thought to have originated in Central or South America, most likely in the area between the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico and the mouth of the Orinoco (Guarauno: “a place to paddle”) River in Sierra Parima (Parima Mountains) in southeastern Venezuela. Now cultivated globally in tropical and warm temperate regions, sweet potatoes thrive in areas with abundant sunshine and warm nights. The tuber, however, is sensitive to drought and to frost.
Despite sharing part of its name with another perennial, sweet potatoes are not related to potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), which belong to the Solanaceae family along with eggplants (Solanum melongena) and tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum). Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, share their family tree with morning glories, water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica), and whitestar potatoes (Ipomoea lacunosa).
Also, sweet potatoes are not related botanically to yams, either, despite the common mistake of treating them synonymously. Native to Africa and Asia, yams belong to the genus Dioscorea, and their edible tubers can assume gigantic lenths of up to almost 5 feet (1.5 meters). As with sweet potatoes, though, yams display a rainbow of colors in their skin and flesh.
Sweet potato skin is colored beige, brown, orange, purple, red, or yellow. Its flesh presents a colorful range from beige to white, orange, pink, red, purple, violet, and yellow. Paler flesh colors, such as white or light yellow, are drier and less sweet, whereas richer colors, such as oranges, pinks, or reds, are moister and sweeter.
In addition to its physical beauty and pleasant taste, sweet potatoes are esteemed for their high nutritional value. In a comparison with other vegetables by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington-D.C.-based consumer advocacy organization focused on nutritional awareness and education, sweet potatoes topped the list. Its nearest competitor, the common potato, lagged behind by 100 points. Sweet potatoes contain zero cholesterol and serve as rich sources of Vitamin A and beta-carotene.
Sweet potatoes have great culinary appeal. Although other parts of the plant are edible, its tuberous roots are the most popularly consumed parts worldwide. Their appealing taste and compliant texture work well in solitary, served straight up as a heated vegetable or in tandem with other ingredients in a creatively, versatile array of recipes, from desserts to noodles, from salads to soups and spirits.
In my family, a favorite recipe for sweet potatoes calls for oven baking as fries. Their cheery color and crispy deliciousness are savored for everyday meals, holiday or impromptu occasions, snacks, or just because they are easy to prepare and satisfying to consume.
My favorite dips for these crispy delights are either organic tomato ketchup or a sauce of horseradish, lemon juice, and sour cream. And yet many times light sprinklings of coarse black pepper and coriander are all that comes between me and my oven-baked sweet potato fries! They are that good on their own.
My Family’s Recipe for Oven-Baked Crispy, Cheery Sweet Potato Fries
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 2 Tablespoons sunflower oil (Note: The nuanced flavor of sunflower oil is a subtle flavor enhancer and its gentle color is pleasing, not distracting.)
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- sharp knife
- large mixing bowl with lid
- 1 Tablespoon measuring scoop
- 1/2 teaspoon measuring scoop
- 1/4 teaspoon measuring scoop
- metal spatula or long tongs
- 1 sheet of parchment paper
- large rectangular sheet pan
1) Preheat oven to 450° Fahrenheit (232° Celsius; gas mark 8).
2) Peel sweet potatoes, or not, according to preference.
- Note: Since I usually retain the outer skin, I lightly rinse the sweet potatoes and then pat them dry with a towel.
- Note: If rinsing, be sure not to drench the potatoes, as any excess water on the skin disrupts the oil coating.
- Note: If I do peel off the skin, I store the peelings in the freezer to add later to stews.
3) Slice in half lengthwise; then cut into lengthwise strips according to desired fry width.
- Note: My preference is for a sturdy slimness. Chunky steak-style fries take longer to crisp during baking.
4) Place sweet potato strips into large mixing bowl, drizzle oil and vinegar over strips, and sprinkle seasonings evenly.
5) Cover with lid and gently toss.
6) Allow to settle while briefly placing sheet pan in oven to slightly warm; remove pan from oven and line pan with parchment sheet.
7) Transfer fries to parchment; be sure that they are spaced nicely and not crowded together.
- Note: Clumping fries together while baking encourages uneven crispness.
Set pan in oven for 15 minutes.
- Note: Please leave the crispy delights in peace while they are baking; do not open the door to check on them.
9) After 15 minutes, open oven door, pull out rack enough for easy access to pan, and carefully turn over strips, using metal spatula or long tongs.
10) Bake for 10 more minutes.
11) Remove from oven and serve.
Makes four servings.
Note: My preference is for additional sprinklings of coarse black pepper after baking for fresh taste sensations of this popular seasoning with each bite.
Copyright: Friday, July 20, 2012, by Stessily.
amyblogschow/YouTube: Sweet Potato Fries ~ Stupidly Simple Snacks