Baked Sweet Potato Fries
There’s something about the salty-fatty flavor combination plus the fun bite-size shape of french fries that has made them one of the most ubiquitous side dishes of our planet.
In our modern foodscape, french fries are everywhere from diners to fast food chains to frozen bags. That's because they're delicious. But don't be fooled by these knock-offs.
Deep-frying is a fairly modern cooking technique that didn't exist until tempura was invented in the 16th century in Japan. There are very few old, traditional recipes which call for submerging food completely in cooking fat - it probably wasn't very economical, using up all that precious fat. Deep-fried potatoes were invented in Belgium in the late 1700s by, it is said, peasants who had run out of fish to fry (but where did peasants get so much cooking oil?). During World War I, American soldiers deemed these "French fries" because the Belgian Army's official language was French.
McDonald's famous fries were cooked in tallow and palm oil up until 1984, when pressure from The Center for Science in the Public Interest caused the fast food giant to switch to, get this, hydrogenated vegetable oil. As if deep-fried food wasn't bad enough, they made it much worse, using polyunsaturated fats (which our bodies don't need much of), hydrogenated oil (trans fats), and oil that is prone to oxidation and rancidity (bad news for our bodies' cells).
Vegetable Oil = Bad
You'd think vegetable oil would be good, it's made from vegetables, right? Wrong. Ever heard of broccoli oil? The truth is, most vegetable oils sold in stores these days are made from seeds, legumes and grains. How do you squeeze oil out of corn, soybeans, safflower? Very heavy processing (not easy to accomplish with whole foods in your kitchen) resulting in transformed, unnatural food-like substances deemed safe to eat. Examples of traditional, healthy oils from plants are extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and macadamia oil.
Brightly colored and packed with nutrients, sweet potatoes pack a mean punch against their rivals: regular potatoes. They are way more loaded with Vitamin A and cancer-fighting beta carotene. Granted, the healthiest way to prepare sweet potatoes is boiling or steaming to keep its glycemic load down. But life is short, and sometimes you just want something delicious. To keep them healthy-ish, eat them alone, with homemade aioli or all-natural low-sugar ketchup (like that of Sir Kensington). Chow down.
2 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons lard (or tallow, duck fat, bear fat... any will do)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay parchment on a baking sheet.
Cut your sweet potatoes into fry-shapes. Try to keep them all about the same size so they bake evenly.
Toss the fries with the fat on the parchment-lined baking sheet, using your hands so the fries get coated. Then spread them all out in one layer, so none overlap.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. Flip the fries (or give it a good shake) half way through.
Immediately sprinkle them with sea salt when they come out of the oven.