The Mr. and I like to take a week day off of work every few months to spend the day at the movies and going out to lunch. While the Twin Cities has some great restaurants and a teeming list of new places worth trying, we tend to get pulled back to our favorite spot, McCormick & Schmick’s at the Westin in Edina, nearly every single time. It’s pretty quiet during the lunch hour when we saddle up to the bar, order a custom house creation off the drink list and start our meal with a side of sweet potato fries with garlic aioli. This is the perfect little snack of warm, salty potato with a cool, tart aioli to tide you over while you peruse the menu and enjoy the day. This recipe is my ode to these fries – the major difference is that these are baked and not fried… still delicious, but don’t pack the same tasty just-fried punch. (If you head to M&S and don’t find these on the menu just ask – it’s not always listed but is always available).
What in heaven’s name is aioli? Years ago when I was bartending at the California Cafe I asked the head chef that question and he laughed in response “That’s a chef’s way of saying mayonnaise”. Of course, the man made his mayo from scratch, but that admission helped me be less intimidated by the name. My aioli is a crack to make, made with store-bought mayo (Hellman’s or Kraft brand) spiked with fresh lemon juice, crushed garlic cloves and a lot of cracked black pepper. Not difficult or intimidating at all. This is best made at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to marry.
The most difficult part of making this treat is to slice up the potatoes (and difficult is all relative, this isn’t actually that hard) – grab your sharpest chef’s knife and you’ll be in good shape. The trick is to trim off the top and bottom of the potato where it becomes thinner, then set the potato on its tall end, and cut once length-wise. Lay the potato down on the edge where you just removed the rounded side then cut the potato into long slices. Once complete, stack the potato slices together and cut match-sticks of the potato. Depending on your personal preference for fries, now’s the time to cut really thick or thin, depending on the outcome you want. I find that about 1/4″ squares cook nice and even. You’re not seeking perfection in your fry size, just consistency so that things cook evenly.
Cover a large sheet pan with tin foil, spray lightly with PAM cooking spray, then spread the potatoes out into a single layer. Without the cooking spray these puppies have a tendency to stick to the pan due to all the natural sugar in the potato. Drizzle vegetable oil over the fries and season with salt and pepper to your liking. My liking means a lot of salt but feel free to go easy on it and be kind to your heart.
Toss these in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, carefully flipping them after 20 minutes. You’re looking for the potato to soften and begin to brown, but not to darken too much.
Once out of the oven, cool for five minutes then serve with the chilled aioli. This is a great side dish to serve with burgers, grilled chicken breasts or meatloaf – and is versatile enough to eat year-round. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Fries and Garlic Aioli
Baked sweet potato fries are crispy yet soft and warm on the inside, and the garlic aioli provides the perfect bite and chilled flavor.
- 4 large sweet potatoes
- Vegetable Oil
- Salt & Cracked black pepper
- 1 cup mayo
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 pinch of salt
- In a medium bowl combine the mayo, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt. Stir thoroughly, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cover a large pan with tin foil, spraying with cooking spray.
- Cut sweet potatoes into fries, and place on the covered pan.
- Drizzle with oil, and spindle with salt and pepper.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, removing to flip the fries, then returning to the oven for another 10 minutes until softened and beginning to brown.
- Remove the fries from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving with the chilled garlic aioli.
- The garlic aioli is best at least one hour ahead of serving to allow the flavors to marry.
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/