I came very late to the sweet potato. Here was Thanksgiving, the greatest tribute to the varieties of savory taste, and right in the center of it, foul tradition had inserted a sickly sweet bright-orange casserole, sometimes implausibly studded with marshmallows, of all things. What was to like? But I have an adult palate now, accustomed to the superficially disgusting constituents of grown up connoisseurship: coffee, beer, wine, yogurt…sweet potatoes.
My first and only memorable experience with sweet potato fries was at Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia (sadly shuttered, for the moment, I believe). They were thin, crisp, liberally sprinkled with Old Bay and delicious. Unfortunately, I’ve never found their equal elsewhere. Most subsequent attempts I’ve sampled have been limp and mushy, with none of the snap I like in a french fry.
With my relocation to a much smaller kitchen in NYC, space is at a premium, but through some combination of nostalgia and luck, an ‘heirloom’ deep fryer made the cut, so I thought I’d give my own sweet potato fries a try:
1. Moisture is the biggest enemy of sweet potato fries. I cut these into a fairly small julienne and lightly salted them, leaving them on paper towels to weep some of their liquid for an hour or two.
2. Everything I’ve read says you really have to fry twice to get a crisp product. The first time should be about 325 and the second at 375. I fried these a little too hot both times. You should let them dry and cool between fryings.
3. Leave the skin on.
4. Though Ortlieb’s fries were heavily seasoned, I loved these with just a light salt.