When I went home to Belgium for the holidays to spend some time with my family, I wanted to try out some new recipes I had in mind, and one thing I had been dying to try was sweet potato fries. I had them in restaurants before and as I absolutely love sweet potatoes, it had been at the top of my ‘to make’ list for a very long while. The first time I made them, I made the big mistake of trying to use raw sweet potatoes, like most chefs seemed to be doing. It took me ages to get them all chopped and needless to say, my hands and arms were killing me afterwards! It wasn’t until after that, that I decided to parboil the potatoes first, to soften them up and make them easier to slice: best idea ever.
Either way, the original ones went down very well so when I came back to Ireland and hosted my very first dinner party here for my friends, I decided to make them again, to serve along with my own coq au vin with mushrooms and carrots. Two of my friends told me during the dinner that they actually don’t really like sweet potatoes all that much, but that they really loved the fries.
Since then they have become a weekly tradition to eat, and they are very easy to combine with a lot of different things. You can create a completely vegetarian recipe with them as they pair well with apples, bananas, dates, figs, kale, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, paprika, peas, pineapple, pumpkin, tomatoes and so on.
When it comes to fish, they go well with cod, halibut, mackerel, salmon and much much more. Meat or poultry? Also no problem! Bacon, chicken, duck, ham, pork and almost any kind of roasted meat will taste delicious with sweet potatoes.
Last but not least: they are good for you! Livestrong claims: “Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, B vitamins, potassium and even iron. In fact, Whole Foods considers sweet potatoes one of the healthiest vegetables we eat. A medium sized sweet potato contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, nearly a third the vitamin C you need, almost 15 percent of your daily dietary fiber intake and 10 percent of the necessary potassium. Sweet potatoes may even protect cigarette smokers and those who live with them from emphysema by virtue of its vitamin A, as cigarette smoke creates a deficiency of this vitamin. This deficiency may be one of the causes of emphysema. Quitting smoking would be best, but eating plenty of sweet potatoes while you work on it may save your life.”
Serves: 5 people
- 10-15 sweet potatoes
- 40cl sour cream
- 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- good quality olive oil
- pepper & salt
Peel the potatoes and put them in a pot with cold water once they are peeled. Don’t add too much water, just enough to cover all of them. You don’t have to add any salt at this point, simply bring it to a boil and let them cook until you can easily pierce them with a knife. They don’t have to be completely cooked, just as long as they are soft enough to make the chopping easier, so let’s say between 7,5 – 10 minutes after the water starts boiling, depending on the thickness of the potatoes.
Once they are done, drain the water and let them cool down by pouring cold water on top of them. Slicing them up should be very easy now, and the technique for it is very easy. Put the potato in front of you, vertically. Slice a piece of the side, something around 1 cm is thick enough and cut along the potato at the same distance until you have cut up 3/4th of the potato, then turn the last piece down (with the core of the potato down) and continue slicing. Then slice the potato slices up in matchsticks until you have fries of 1cm thickness. Don’t make them too thin or they will burn, don’t make them too thick or they won’t become crispy. Put the fries in some cold water while you are slicing the remaining ones up.
Now spray a bit of olive oil onto a baking sheet, place the fries along side each other but leave a bit of room in between, drizzle lightly with some extra olive oil on top and sprinkle some pepper and salt over the fries. Pop them in the oven at 185° for 25 – 30 minutes (until they start to brown on the ends) and make sure to check on them every once in a while to make sure they aren’t turning black. It’s always important to know your oven and make sure not to turn the heat up too high to speed up the process, as they will simply burn on the edges too fast and your middle part will still be soggy. Depending on the type of oven you have, you might have to turn your plate around a bit so all the fries are baked evenly.
In the meanwhile you can make your dip. Simply stir the chopped parsley and garlic powder into the sour cream and set aside. Once the fries are done you can sprinkle some fresh parsley on top and serve them with the dip.