A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 13, 2008
Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries (or “sweet potato french fries") became popular in American restaurants from the 1980s. The fries are prepared like french fries, and both are sometimes combined as “mixed fries.”

Sweet potato fries, like french fries, can be served with ketchup, but are sometimes served with ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing and chipotle sauce.


Wikipedia: Sweet potato
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant which belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Amongst the approximately 50 genera and more than 1000 species of this family, only I. batatas is a crop plant whose large, starchy, sweet tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable (Purseglove, 1991; Woolfe, 1992). The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). It is commonly called a yam in parts of North America, although they are only very distantly related to the other plant widely known as yams (in the Dioscoreaceae family), which is native to Africa and Asia.

Sweet Potato Facts and Recipes
Deep Fat French Fried Sweet Potatoes: Pare and cut into length-wise strips, about 1/2 inch thick. Heat oil in fryer to 365 degrees F. Keep fry basket in fat as it heats.

Raise basket and add enough sweet potato strips to cover bottom of basket. Lower basket slowly into hot fat. If fat bubbles much, lift and lower basket until bubbling subsides. Fry until sweet potato strips are brown and tender. Remove from hot oil and drain onto paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Spread sweet potatoes on baking sheet and place in a warm oven while others are being cooked.

Food Network
Sweet Potato Fries
Recipe courtesy Kathleen Daelemans
Show: Cooking Thin Episode: Go Mom Go, Part 2

Ingredients
Extra-virgin olive oil, for lightly coating
6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced like steak fries
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 packet taco seasoning mix

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, drizzle oil over the potatoes and toss to coat. Add salt and taco seasoning mix and toss. Place sweet potato fries in one even layer onto a baking sheet. Keep space between them so they get crispy on all sides. Bake in batches.

Place into the oven for 10 minutes, then flip them over. Place back in for 10 more minutes. They should be soft on the inside and browned on the outside. Let them cool for 5 minutes before serving.

* You may substitute baking potatoes for sweet potatoes. However, when placing back into the oven change cooking time to 5 minutes instead of 10.

Kerbey Lane Cafe (Austin, TX)
Sweet Potato Fries
Served with your choice of verde or spicy chipotle sauce $4.50

Phil’s Icehouse (Austin, TX)
Sweet potato fries...$2.75
Basket of mixed fries...$2.75

Texas A&M PLANTanswers
BULLETIN NO. 38 NOVEMBER 1936
HOW THE FARMER CAN SAVE HIS SWEET POTATOES
AND WAYS OF PREPARING THEM FOR THE TABLE
(Revised and Reprinted)
FOURTH EDITION
BY GEO. W. CARVER, M. S. AGR., D. Sc.
Director, Experiment Station, TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE
Tuskegee Institute Press 1937
(...)
No. 4, FRIED
Cut in slices lengthwise and fry in deep grease, same as white pota-toes. Care must be taken to not allow them to become hard and dry.

8 February 1985, Frederick (MD) News-Post, pg.  C15, col. 4 ad:
The Southern
Frederick’s Only Downtown Night Club

SOUTH TEXAS STYLE BARBECUE
(...)
PIT BEEF OR PORK SANDWICH—Sweet Potato Fries

New York (NY) Times
DINING OUT;
WHERE TEX-MEX MEETS MESQUITE
By FORENCE FABRICANT
Published: July 21, 1985
(...)
Sweet-potato fries that accompany some of the dishes are superb but the beans - always mashed black turtle beans - are less appealing than the mellower red beans that one usually finds. 
(...)
Little Rock Rodeo
* Montauk Highway, East Hampton. 324-7777.

12 November 1986, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, “Gourmet food acquires an international flavor,” pg. 67?, col. 1:
The main course in most households will be traditional—the holidays are not the time for nouvelle nonsense—but beyond that anything goes, from sweet potato french fries and potato chips to jalapeno-flavored lollipops and pound cake drenched in Kahlua.

New York (NY) Times
Dining Out Guide; Pre-theater
Published: January 16, 1987
(...)
Fridays, noon to 3 P.M. and 5 P.M. to midnight; Saturdays, 5 P.M. to midnight; Sundays, 3:30 to 10:30 P.M. CHEZ JOSEPHINE, #414 West 42d Street (594-1925) - *(Oct. 11, 1986) An exuberant bistro named for the glamorous Parisian chanteuse of the 1920’s, the long, narrow restaurant has a delightfully racy decor showing the singer in various stages of scanty dress. Starters include the coarse house pate, braised leeks in a tomato vinaigrette and Chinese-style dumplings filled with dill-accented goat cheese and pine nuts in a clear broth. The French-American menu is anchored by some alluring peasant dishes - boudin noir, a blood sausage, with red cabbage, onions and sauteed apples; fried chicken with sweet-potato fries and red-pepper corn bread - or you might choose the Black Angus steak in a pink peppercorn sauce with french fries.

23 November 1987, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Potpourri of Produce”:
Walter is confident that sweet potato fries will soon by a common sight in fast food restaurants.

Google News Archive
29 March 1989, Palo Verde Valley Times (Blythe, CA), “Sweet potato fries? What’s next?,” pg. 5, cols. 4-5:
We’re used to seeing sweet potatoes mashed with brown sugar at the Thanksgiving dinner table. But scientist William M. Walter, Jr. says sweet potatoes could be getting a new image—as french fries.

They are already on the menu at Wolensky’s, a Washington, D.C. bar and grill that sells 100 to 150 pounds of the fries a week. “We serve them with raspberry vinegar and they’re very popular,” says chef Kevin Long.

Walter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture chemist, is optimistic about sweet potato fries because of a study he conducted for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. It showed that, after one year of frozen storage, the cooked fries retained their falvor, texture, appearance and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

“Our tests show that sorage stability shouldn’t be a problem if industry wants to develop sweet potato french fries,” said Walter at the ARS food science research laboratory in Raleigh, N.C. “We’ve had a lot of calls from industry on this study and sooner or late the product may be widely available.”

How do they taste? “Imagine sweet potatoes that have a texture somewhat like french fries,” he said. “They taste especially good with vinegar, salt, sugar or other seasoning.”

Houston (TX) Press
The Surprising Rise of Sweet Potato Fries
Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 02:52:05 PM
What do you put on your sweet potato fries? At Hubcab Grill in downtown Houston, my friend gets extra mayo to dip his in. At Beechwood American Bistro in Venice, California, they come with aioli. Other L.A. restaurants serve them with chipotle mayo, horseradish mayo and BBQ sauce. At Silver K Café in Johnson City, Texas, customers dip them in ranch dressing. (Along with everything else on the table.)

“Sweet-potato fries have spread through Seattle like an epidemic,” wrote Anna Roth in the Seattle Weekly’s 2008 Best of Seattle issue. “No matter how great regular fries seemed before, one bite of the exciting new tuber’s sweet taste and firmer texture makes old spuds seem pedestrian and ordinary.”

The exciting new tuber? Is she talking about the same sweet potato that was domesticated in South America 5,000 years ago? Maybe she meant that frying sweet potatoes was new? Okay, so George Washington Carver published a recipe for sweet potato fries (among many other sweet potato recipes) back in the 1930s, while he was at Tuskegee University in Alabama. How are they supposed to know about that in Seattle--or Canada?
(...)
Blue cheese dressing would be my idea of the perfect dip. Anybody know of a place that has sweet potato fries and Buffalo chicken wings on the menu?—Robb Walsh

Serious Eats
Sweet Potato Fries—Who Likes These Things?
Posted by Adam Kuban, November 5, 2008 at 9:00 PM
(...)
Offsetting any initial (and marginal) tastiness, however, are these facts:

After you’ve had your fun you’re left with a honkin’ basket of these things because, for some reason, they’re always served in gigantic portions. (See photo, above.)

Add to that the fact that nobody seems to know how to properly fry these things. They’re always, always super greasy. (See photo, above.)

And they’re always burnt. (See photo, above.)

And they’re never crisp. (That’s not evident in the photo above, but, trust me, those sweet-potato fries up there are limp and soggy.)

To recap, a basket of sweet-potato fries is too much of a greasy, flavorless, burnt, flaccid thing.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, November 13, 2008 • Permalink