These sweet potato fries aren’t trying to be a substitute for French fries. They’re too busy doing their own thing, in ways that a regular potato could never do. Where regular fries are fluffy, these are dense and creamy. Where pommes frites emphasize salt, these fries are sweet and spicy. While standard fries require multiple cooks and freezing in order to get the perfect texture, these chippies only get a quick blanch and coating before frying up golden and crispy.
Be aware that sweet potatoes will get softer more quickly than a russet or a Yukon gold. Keep an eye on them as they blanch, and take care to avoid breaking the long wedges when removing the sweet potatoes from the boiling water, and when tossing them in the spicy coating.
As written, this recipe delivers a noticeable background heat, but since all palates are different when it comes to spice, feel free to adjust the cayenne level to your own taste, substitute another pepper, or dispense with the spiciness altogether. The fries will still be utterly delicious, served either with a dip of your choice or on their own.
- 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal (optional)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 4 liters neutral frying oil such as peanut or soybean
Preheat the oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy pot to 330 F. If using a pot, use a thermometer and take extra care to not heat the oil beyond the recommended temperature.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into wedges, about 3/4 inch thick at the fat end of the wedge.
To a mixing bowl wide enough to easily toss all the sweet potatoes without creating a traffic jam, add the cornstarch, three tablespoons of water, cayenne and smoked paprika and mix into a slurry.
Bring two quarts of water to a boil in a pot over high heat. Add the salt and the baking soda to the boiling water, then add the sweet potato wedges. Cook the wedges in the water for about 4 minutes, then use a spider to transfer the blanched wedges to the bowl with the starch and pepper slurry.
Using a rubber spatula, gently toss the wedges in the slurry until well coated, then, if desired, sprinkle on the cornmeal for an extra bit of crunch.
One by one, softly drop the wedges into the hot oil. Deep fry for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Drain well and season with salt before serving.