Almost Crispy and Just in Time for Fall

I’ve done a poor job of sticking to my own personal goal of one post a week. But I think I’ve got a good line up coming this week and next for you. On Saturday we are throwing a French dinner party with a few close friends and I am so excited! I will be posting about my culinary adventures as well as adding to my Design repertoire with a pin on the event planning map! Busy has been the name of the game for the last week and a half, so I am trying to make up for some lost progress.

It appears that fall is upon us already and while in the dead of winter I long for the warm, bright days of summer, I will gladly admit that fall is my favorite. There is so much beauty and change happening all around us and it happens all too fast, if you don’t stop to admire all it has to offer you will likely miss it. This seems to be an equal metaphor for life.

I went down to visit my sister at college this last weekend and it was so lovely to see her paving her own way in a beautiful town that is so close to my own heart. It was quite cold during the evening in Decorah, so over night the leaves were changing from bright emerald green to limes, and lemons, a little orange here and some red there… I love Decorah in the fall and was so happy to have just a taste of it.

However, last week we were still enjoying some of the last warmer days of the season, so we had (amazing) turkey burgers and for the side I tried to make something near and dear to my heart. Sweet potato fries. Ohhh mamma do I love me a good, crispy, sweet potato fry. Now, here’s the tough part: deep-fried sweet potatoes take all of the nutritional value (or potential for) and throw it in the trash, so the alternative is baking, but so often when you bake a potato, well, baked sweet potato fries can quickly turn into sweet potato mushy wedges. Tasty. But not at all as satisfying as the crisp of a sweet potato fry. Admittedly, these did not turn out quite perfectly. But they were the best attempt I’ve ever made and they were quite delicious, so I figured it was worth posting, especially since someone who has the patience to not cut corners the first time (NOT ME!) might end up with stellar results.

So here goes:

Preheat your oven to 425. Start with 2 large sweet potatoes. Peel (I didn’t do this, so you should), cut your fries into “matchstick” size pieces (mine were generous matchsticks…make yours smaller), and soak in cold water for 1 hour or overnight (this draws out the starch and gives the potatoes a better chance to crisp up in the oven or in oil). Rinse well, then dry off well.


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Add two generous handfuls of sweet potato matchsticks to a gallon sized plastic bag, add a teaspoon of corn starch, seal the bag with all the air you can keep inside, and shake vigorously until all of the matchsticks are coated and no fry is particularly doused in corn starch (that makes for chalky fries). Dump those fries into a bowl and mix with (cayenne or red pepper if you like heat) 1 Tbsp. canola oil. DO NOT USE OLIVE OIL. Unless you want smelly billowing clouds of smoke coming from your oven after only 5 minutes of baking your fries which will definitely not be crisp that fast. Repeat until you have coated all of your fries in starch and oil.

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Place foil on 2 pans (dull side up) and grease with cooking spray. Really. You really, really want to do this. After you make your first batch of fries place them on a cookie sheet and make sure there is no touching. But I would also encourage you to keep them far enough apart that they won’t let off enough steam to steam the fries next door (mine are too close together). I would say that this is the step you should pay the most attention to. Don’t try to cram them all on one pan or even two, I know you will be tempted, but the more room the little guys have, the better. Repeat with the second oiled-up bowl of fries and remember – no touching! Note: DO NOT SALT YOUR FRIES RIGHT NOW. You can add salt later, I know it is part of the characteristic charm of sweet potato fries, they are sweet and salty and depending on how you cook them, fatty. They are the triple threat! But if you salt NOW the salt will draw out moisture from the sweet potatoes and they will be mush fries. Which is not the point of all of these laborious steps to begin with. So, I beg of you, do not pre-salt your fries.

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Place in the oven for 15 mins, one sheet in the top 1/3 of the oven and the other sheet in the bottom 1/3 of the oven. Then remove from the oven and flip all of your fries over. you want to make sure that the bottom is now on top using either a spatula or tongs. And again, no touching! Switch the trays from top to bottom and vice-versa. Also, rotate which direction faced front – so the fries in the front will now be in the back. I know that sounds nit-picky, but it really helps in getting you a crispy fry! Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and prop open the oven door while letting your fries continue to sit in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. They will continue cooking and crisping up!

NOW you can add salt.

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Yum. Yeah, they weren’t perfectly crispy, but boy were they good.

Served alongside a Magic Turkey Burger. Ground turkey seasoned with “magic dust.” I mixed about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of ‘magic’ dust in with 1 lb. of ground turkey and formed 4 patties. Even Shane, who isn’t really a huge fan of turkey (because he thinks it’s bland), thought they were delicious and juicy.

We also used this rub last week on pork chops and this week on a pork tenderloin. It’s awesome.

Mike Mills’ Magic Dust Rub:

  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup sugar (we substituted brown sugar – I stand by that choice)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne
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