It’s fall. Chilly nights. Rainy days. Movie night at home requires a throw blanket, a warm fireplace, a chick flick or buddy flick to warm the heart, and a switch from a glass of white wine or amber beer to a glass of hearty red wine or a stout beer.
What to do for finger food? Forget the popcorn or bag of chips. Savor the sweet flavors of fall with sweet potato and beet fries, kicked up a notch by tossing with garlic seasoning.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Sweet potatoes, tasty. But beets? Ewww! Bear with me here. I’m not a fan of those canned creatures from the red lagoon either. But I have discovered how different, and milder, fresh, oven-roasted beets taste. They almost have a liquorish-like flavor. So I was experimenting in the kitchen the other day and decided to try frying them like French fries. Turns out they’re very tasty, like their oven-roasted cousins. You need to use the largest beets you can get for this. No puny punks allowed or you’ll end up with short stubbles.
The secret to crispy French fries is the two-fry method: You have to fry them twice. The first time gets some of the natural liquid cooked out of the veggies and actually cooks the veggies. Then you let them drain of oil and cool for a few minutes before re-frying them to get a crispy texture on the skin. And whatever you do, don’t put the finished fries in a warm oven to keep them warm. That will drive out more moisture from within the vegetables and ruin your attempt at crispiness. The best thing is to eat them as soon as they’re out of the oil and cooled enough not to singe your tongue.
When making this, fry the sweet potatoes before the beets. The beets will give off lots of red juice in your oil and you’ll need to do some skimming with a fine-meshed spoon to get the floating red bits out of the oil after you fry the beets, or they’ll stain your sweet potatoes.
For a variation, you can also add yams for a trifecta of fries.
Garlic-tossed Sweet Potato and Beet Fries
- 4-6 cups (.95 l. or more) of oil for frying.
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin long pieces (Note: resist the urge to use a mandolin unless you are very sure of yourself because sweet potatoes are a lot tougher than regular potatoes and will resist the blades of the mandolin. I learned this the hard way, nearly skinning my knuckles. Nobody wants bloody fries, not even on Halloween)
- 4 large beets, peeled and cut into thin long pieces (Same warning as above on the use of a mandolin)
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml.) of garlic salt
- Heat oil to 350 ºF (175 ºC).
- Fry the sweet potatoes in 2 batches for about 3 minutes until they soften, drain in a plate lined with paper towels.
- Repeat with the beets, frying them in 2 batches for about 4 minutes until they soften, drain in a plate lined with paper towels.
- Skim the oil with a wire-meshed spoon to remove the red residue from the beets.
- Place the sweet potatoes back in the oil in 2 batches and fry until they turn golden and crispy, approximately another 3 minutes. Drain and place in a large plate or bowl.
- Repeat with the beets, frying until they turn a dark purple and crispy. Drain and place with sweet potatoes in the plate.
- Sprinkle the garlic salt over the beets and sweet potatoes, toss and serve.