Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries With a New Wave Beat

The idea for this recipe came from a passport office of all places. I was getting my passport renewed and the lady helping me had a food calendar on the wall featuring sweet potato fries paired with a juicy grilled steak. It looked like a great idea so I decided to do the same.

The first time I was issued a passport was in the ‘80s so I thought it was only appropriate to pump some ‘80s new wave music in my kitchen while preparing these fries. My first passport was for a ski trip to Austria with friends. I was in high school at the time and songs such as "Planet Earth" by Duran Duran and "Story of Love" by Voice of America were in constant rotation on the radio and a big part of my life. "Kiss Me" by Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy still remains one of my favorites new wave tunes from that era. All these songs made for a fantastic nostalgic cooking experience that brought me back to those carefree youthful years!

As for the sweet potato fries, I didn't get a chance to write down the recipe from the calendar so I followed the same approach I use to prepare oven-baked fries using russet potatoes. The difference was the russet potato version always crisps up nicely but the sweet potatoes didn't want to do that. It might be because I missed one critical step, the first one. Don't ask. That first step is to rinse the cut sweet potatoes under cold water to wash away surface sugars, which of course helps the fries crisp. D'oh!

In the end I ended up with a very tasty sweet potato fry that was on the limp side. What a shame! On a positive note, sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest things you can eat and they do go well with a grilled steak! I'm sure they are even better if you're more attentive than I and add the first step.

Here’s how to make them!

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into ¼ - to ½-inch sticks
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp Cajun spice
Salt for seasoning

Carefully place sweet potato sticks in a colander and rinse under cold water. This washes away surface sugars and will help the fries crisp.

Place sweet potato sticks in a large pot. Add enough cold water to just cover potatoes. Add salt. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 3 minutes. Gently drain sweet potatoes and spread them on paper towels to dry (they can sit for up to an hour before roasting).

Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place sweet potatoes on prepared baking sheet and add oil and Cajun spice. Gently toss to coat the sweet potatoes, being careful not to break the sticks. Arrange on the sheet, leaving at least a ¼-inch between them, so they crisp on all sides.

In a 450ºF oven, roast for 15 minutes. Turn the fries over and roast for 6 to 8 minutes more or until fries are nicely browned and crisp. Remove from oven and season with salt while they are still hot. Serve.

Volume: Makes 4 Servings

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Brent Garell
The Kitchen Roadie

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