Potato is good. Sweet potato is better. Nutritionally speaking. That's not a judgement call, that's a cold, hard fact call. It has been touted by the Advances in Food and Nutrition Research Journal as one of the most excellent sources of health-promotiong compounds. A must-eat for everyone.
However, if we talk in terms of practicality when french-fry making then the potato is by far better. It goes crisp and golden on the outside and leaves you with a warm and soft inside. Just as chips should be. If you've ever tried to replicate this with a sweet potato you've most probably failed.
So why would you try and make french fries out of the soon-to-be soggy, limp sweet potato when potato does it so well? Because if you're a chip-lover and a conscious eater then you will know you can't have your chips and eat them too. Sweet potatoes score much higher on the nutrition panel than the regular potato and even though a potato is no problem from time to time, choosing foods that are better for you is always the main goal. When compared, the sweet potato provides your total requirement of vitamin A for the day, more vitamin C, less calories, more fibre and fewer total carbs than the old potato. So when there is a will there is a way and I finally managed to make some crispy, crunchy, good on their own sweet potato fries.
It begins with the chopping of the sweet potato. Leave the skin on and make sure you scrub it well before cutting it up. Then, cut your sweet potato up into fries. Go thin here. I used a mandolin that was set to 6mm (cubes) and this worked perfectly. Not everyone owns a mandolin cutter so if you're doing it by hand this can be laborious but it's well worth it. They need to be around 5cm long to make them french-friable.
Once you've transformed your potato into fries then give them a gold old rinse under cool water. This washes away some of the starch that comes out during the cutting process which makes your fries soggy. Spread the fries out onto a towel and pat dry. They more dry they are the less potential for them to steam themselves and go limp.
Now you're almost ready to cook them but there are a couple more final things you need to do to make these fries worth it. First, cover your fries in corn meal or polenta. The outside of the sweet potato will never get as crispy as a regular potato without some assistance and this is what the cornmeal does. It provides a nice outer coating that provides texture and allows the sweet potato to cook itself whilst retaining it's crisp outer cover. And lastly, when you're laying your chips out on the baking tray gives each fry a good amount of space. Placing them close together will make them steam each other out and ruin all your attempts to make them as crispy as possible. Use two trays if you need and keep rotating them from top to bottom of the oven. You will not need to turn these fries so once they're in and cooking they require no more fuss (thank god!).
They are a lot more fussy than a regular potato but the benefits of regularly eating sweet potato far outweighs that of potato. It's also a challenge for yourself and who doesn't love a cooking challenge? Dip them in some guacamole or make a tahini and coriander dipping sauce and you will be in french fry heaven.
1 sweet potato (about 500g)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp cornmeal or polenta
salt to taste
1. heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a tray with baking paper
2. Cut your sweet potato into fries (6mm cubes around 5cm long), rinse and dry thoroughly
3. Place the fries into a sealable bag with the oil and corn meal and toss until each fry is well coated (add your own spice mix here as well if you like)
4. Arrange your fries on your baking tray and cook for around 40 minutes, rotating the trays if you need to. They will look darkened and crispy when they are done
5. Sprinkle with salt to finish and enjoy them piping hot