Mary-Frances Heck literally wrote the book on sweet potatoes. This usually-behind-the-scenes recipe developer (she did the recipes for a whole bunch of your favourite cookbooks) just released a book of 60 sweet potato recipes for all the sweet potato needs you might have, plus a few that you probably haven't thought about yet.
She stopped by the MUNCHIES kitchen to talk to us about her new book, the testing process, and how to make sweet potato fries that don't suck. "Writing this book was a fun exercise in 'what do you do with sweet potatoes?' I'm not trying to reinvent someone's grandma's sweet potato pie or casserole; those dishes are great, but they already exist."
The book has two different fry methods inside: Heck calls them the easy way and the hard way. "Which ones would I prefer to eat? If someone handed me a basket of the super-crispy fried ones, I wouldn't turn them away. But if I had to make them every day? I'd be kind of sad."
The easy way is pretty straightforward: they get cut into fries (preferably with a sturdy knife: "If you wouldn't cut a squash with it, don't cut a sweet potato with it. That'll break your shit."), then they get a toss in oil, a coating of salt and paprika, and a roast in a high-heat oven. They taste like very good roasted sweet potatoes, which is what they are.
MAKE THESE: Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries
But the hard way is where the magic happens. The same sweet potato batons are tossed in cornstarch and baking soda, and then frozen till rock hard.
Once they're out, they get tossed in a cornstarch-and-club-soda batter, then fried. But can't you just do the fancy Belgian double-fry thing and call it a day? No, says Heck: "The reason you don't do the classic double-fry method with sweet potatoes is that there's no starch on the surface to gelatinise. By freezing the sweet potatoes what we're doing is giving the outside more time to get crisp before the inside becomes overcooked and mushy."
What you end up with are these:
Completely perfect crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside sweet potato fries that leave every other soggy-but-it-means-well sweet potato fry you've ever had in the dust.
MAKE THIS: Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
Heck serve hers with chipotle aioli ("chipotle and sweet potatoes is like the savory equivalent of the way cinnamon works with sweet potatoes in desserts"), but you can serve yours however you want. Or just eat them straight out of the fryer, burning your hands and making her fry more for the photo. That's what we did.