A: Potato chips (French fries in the US or pommes frites in France) is definitely food perfection. If you measure the success of a food by how addictive it is, then it is hard to beat the chips. But hold on, have you tried the crispy sweet potato chips yet? I think with these baked beauties, the traditional deep fried favourites may meet with a proper challenge. These are simply irresistible. Loaded with beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A, the sweet potatoes are also rich in fibre and a source of Vitamin C, potassium and manganese.
We have been making sweet potato wedges to go with steaks, burgers and pies for a long time. But I have shied away from making chips with these as I found it hard to make them crispy. They are perfect for wedges as the edges become crispy after baking while the inside remains quite soft. Finally I found the solution in cornflour (corn starch in the US). Boy! they are so crispy – you will find it hard to stop eating them. I recommend making a lot more than what you would normally serve as they can be really in short supply if you are baking these for guests!
First cut the sweet potatoes as matchsticks to the desired length and thickness. I have peeled the skin off before cutting, but you can keep them on as they are full of nutrients and perfectly edible. You will need a very sharp knife to cut the potato into uniformly thin slices. I use a Japanese fruit knife which is very very sharp. The potato will break at random and will not retain the desired size and shape if your knife is not sharp enough.
Next coat the cut potatoes with cornflour. You will need one table spoon of cornflour for each large potato you use. The best way to cover the potatoes uniformly is to put the potatoes and cornflour in a plastic bag and shake. It’s much more fun than rubbing it on with your hands!
Cover one or two baking trays with parchment paper. Brush the papers with olive oil and distribute the cornflour coated chips on them is a single layer. Make sure that the chips are neither on top of each other nor too crowded. The air gaps will ensure that the chips are uniformly crispy when baked. Either spray (with a oil sprayer) or sprinkle some olive oil over the chips.
Now is the time for creativity. You can spice up your chips with whatever flavour you prefer. Dried thyme leaves, dill, marjoram, oregano, chopped rosemary are all good options. I have used a pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and provencal herbs to spice up my chips. I like the hot cayenne pepper as it provides a hot cover to the sweet taste of sweet potato and gives a great hot-sweet taste in every bite. Also it tastes amazing dipped in ketchup.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and place the baking trays towards the middle of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Then take the trays out and turn the chips. Bake for another 10 minutes. The turning helps to make the chips cook uniformly.
Next switch off the oven and leave the baking trays inside the oven with the oven door ajar. This helps to bring down the chips to room temperature while making them very crispy. Always serve the chips when they are just slightly warm or at room temperature – never too hot.
One of the downsides of using the cornflour is that the chips will appear a bit burnt. This is because the cornflour chars very fast. The potato would however not burn at all and will taste magnificent.
Here I have served the chips with a sirloin steak. I have used 48 day aged Angus beef. To get the steak right is quite easy. Brush both sides of the steak with olive oil and sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Then cook for 2 minutes on each side over a ridged hot grill pan for a rare steak. For a thicker steak you may need to cook a minute or two longer. If you prefer it medium, cook for another 2 minutes and 4 minutes for well done. Don’t forget to rest the beef for at least 5 minutes before serving.
If you try the sweet potato chips at home, do let us know if they were as addictive as we found them.