Mariel here. It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a month since the last Secret Recipe Club – some of you may recall the divisive Zucchini Brownies incident – so I spent part of Sunday scrambling to whip up a winner from my assigned blog, Mom’s Fridge. Intent on selecting a surefire favorite, I divined a batch of Baked Old Bay Sweet Potato Fries loosely based on Barb’s Old Bay Potatoes. And unlike the brownies, these babies garnered a resounding two-thumb’s-up from my oh-so-official panel of culinary judges. My mom and I had both attempted Baked Sweet Potato “Fries” in the past, but were foiled by their mushy sogginess. The flavor was all right, the texture just wasn’t crunchy enough.
Determined to stick it to the sweet potato and coax out its inner crackle, I test-drove a number of techniques culled from both the interwebs and past experience. Lo and behold, I believe I’ve stumbled upon the Holy Grail of Tater Fry-Baking. As far as I’m concerned these are the three no-fail crisp-ifying rules: 1. Blanch the potatoes pre-baking, it helps strip out some of the extra starch 2. Include an egg white in your seasoning sauce to add a toasted golden shell to each “fry” 3. Preheat your cookie sheets so they’re already piping hot when you place the tots on top. The Old Bay is just the proverbial icing on the cake since I’m all for using this woefully underused spice whenever and wherever possible.
It should be noted that while I stuck fairly closely to Mom’s Fridge‘s seasoning mix, I changed up a few of the ingredients: I used a potpourri of sweet potatoes and russets (the russets are naturally firmer and they add a nice textural dimension to the fries, while the sweet potaters contribute a healthy dose of beta carotene), I swapped in fresh garlic instead of powdered, and I added the aforementioned egg white. The technique, as you now know, is entirely different. If you plan on serving these low-fat fries to guests – and don’t keep your kitchen stocked with fast food sleeves – I discovered that good old fashioned coffee filters work beautifully in a pinch (as pictured). I plan on making these again and again since they’re cheap and, as my husband asserted whilst eating his fifth helping, they’re practically fat-free. They aren’t, but they ain’t deep-fried either.
Psst: Don’t forget to enter our Edgeware zester and grater giveaway!
Crispy Old Bay Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes or 2 russet potatoes (or one of each) – $1.98
1 Tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning + a sprinkle (spicy or cajun-style seasoning mixes also work well) – stock
1 egg white – stock
1 Tablespoon of olive oil + a little for brushing the tin foil – stock
2 cloves of garlic, minced finely – stock
¼ teaspoon kosher salt – stock
A pinch freshly-ground black pepper – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $1.98
Cost per serving: $0.49
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with aluminum foil greased with cooking spray or olive oil. PS: Parchment paper will produce an even crispier result, so use it if you have it. Spray or brush it with olive oil, as directed above.
2. Wash and scrub the potatoes, leave the skin intact. Cut the potatoes into thin 2-inch-long strips. Make them as uniform as possible so they bake evenly.
3. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Boil the potato strips for 3 minutes, then immediately pour into a colander and run cold water over the potatoes to halt the cooking process. This is known as blanching, in case you didn’t already know. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and blot well.
4. Pre-heat the foil-lined cookie sheets in the oven for 5 minutes. If you’re using parchment paper, just preheat the cookie sheets, slip on the parchment paper when you’re ready to bake the fries.
5. Meanwhile, whisk the egg white, add the Tablespoon of Old Bay, salt, garlic, olive oil and black pepper. Toss with potato spears, coating evenly.
6. Spread the spears in a single layer on prepared, hot cookie sheets. As much as possible, try and make sure they’re not touching or they’ll steam, not bake, and be a little softer.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned and crispy. Finish with a dusting of Old Bay.
8. Store at room temp in an airtight container lined with paper towels