Oh, Gourmet magazine, what will we do when we need something simple and savory and lipsmacking? Who else will understand that sweet potatoes were not invented to be smothered in marshmallows? Who else will have the brilliant derring-do to slice a sweet potato like a steak fry and season it with fennel? [Sigh]
I’ll have to settle for being grateful that the recipe archive lives on, as it helps me make up for all the years—too many years—when sweet potatoes and I weren’t friends.
Some years ago, my friend, Tom, talked me into trying the sweet potato fries that were a specialty of the dive where we sometimes ate lunch. I hadn’t had sweet-potato-anything in years—decades—scarred as I was as a child by something yammy (candied yams, I suspect). I wasn’t optimistic about the fry treatment, and I was pretty certain I was wasting an opportunity to enjoy a plate of regular ole dive fries, but, I powered on. I even agreed to his insistence on ordering some sour cream on the side. Sweet potatoes? Fried? With sour cream?
I had to be crazy.
I’m pretty sure Tom doesn’t read this blog, which is fortunate for me, because then he would find out just how indebted I am to him for opening my eyes to the beauty of the fried sweet potato—dipped in sour cream— and he would probably hold it over my head for an indefinite period of time.
I don’t know how the dive who served me those fries that day prepared them, but these baked versions are yummy-yum-yummy. Tender and perfectly seasoned, they’ll make a believer out of the staunchest sweet potato detractor.
The grocery didn’t have “medium” potatoes today. Each of these suckers was 1 lb. Aren’t they pretty with their rosy glow?
SoupAddict loves da spices. Not a fan of licorice? Don’t skip out on the fennel. That’s right, don’t skip it. Trust SoupAddict on this one.
Action photo goodness! A mortar and pestle is a little more work than a coffee grinder, but the reward is the scent of spices, which is intoxicating.
Someday, there will be scratch-and-sniff technology and you’ll be able to share in SoupAddict’s giddyness.
This is why SoupAddict loves vegetables as much as she loves chocolate. How much more beautiful can a thing dug from the earth get? Amazing.
A little oil will help all the heavenly spicy goodness cling to the potato strips.
SoupAddict’s extremely uncoordinated left hand gets spice-sprinkling duty, which usually results in uneven piles of spices. But that’s okay—a little tossing will take care of that (tossing of the potatoes, that is, not the left hand).
Arrange the wedges into a single layer, for even heating.
Halfway through, remove the pan from the oven and flippity-flip the wedges over with a spatula.
Ahhh. Golden and divine, slightly sweet, slightly spicy. Wholly delicious. Serve with a side of sour cream. And try not to eat the whole thing yourself.
Roasted Spicy Sweet Potatoes
Gourmet, January 2002
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lbs. medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed (peeled or not; it’s up to you)
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Coarsely grind coriander, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes in an electric coffee/spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Stir together spices and salt. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch wedges.
3. Toss wedges with oil and spices in a large roasting pan and roast in middle of oven 20 minutes. Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.
SoupAddict’s notes: I would recommend slicing the potatoes into 1/2″ thick wedges. After they were finished roasting, I also stuck them under the broiler for several minutes to dry them out a bit. One treatment I might try next time is to simply spray the wedges with spray oil, instead of using vegetable oil, and then sprinkle on the spices.