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Emeril Lagasse's Fried Sweet PotatoesCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
Popular, Emmy-nominated, and James Beard Award-winning television chef Emeril Lagasse specializes in Louisiana (primarily Creole and Cajun) cooking. Cooking from an early age, he has been either a chef at and/or owner of many acclaimed restaurants. Lagasse has written a number of best-selling cookbooks (There's a Chef in My Soup, Emeril's TV Dinners, Louisiana Real and Rustic, etc.) and has been one of the most often-watched chefs on The Food Network. He frequently uses the catch phrases "Bam!" and "Let's kick it up a notch." His TV cooking shows have included Emeril, How to Boil Water, Emeril Live, and Essence of Emeril.
Emeril Lagasse has a passion for cooking, and this simple recipe for making fried sweet potatoes (they are in abundance in many southern states much of the year) is nourishing and cheap. It is one of his many quirky and delicious recipes from his 1999 cookbook Every Day's a Party, Louisiana Recipes for Celebrating with Family and Friends. Be aware that to fry the sweet potatoes in this large quantity — it is, after all, meant to serve a party &mdash Emeril uses 8 cups of oil. To prepare for your own family's dinner, you can cut the quantities by half or more.
He offers this advice when making this sweet potato dish: "In Louisiana, when we have large parties and have to cook for a cord, it's sometimes easier to drain fried foods on big brown grocery bags. I suggest putting one bag inside another so that they're more absorbent, then spreading them out on a large table near your frying station. Works like a charm!"
Emeril Lagasse's Fried Sweet Potatoes
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 8 c. vegetable oil
- 5 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a very large, heavy, deep pot or an electric deep-fryer to 360 deg. F.
Fry the sweet potatoes, in batches, until golden, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper bags or on paper towels, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and serve hot.
Serves a number of people at a party as a side dish or appetizer.
If you're a bit of a novice (or a total newbie) on preparing sweet potatoes, here are some helpful tips for buying, prepping, and cooking them:
More Tips on Prepping and Cooking Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are available year round, but peak in winter. When purchasing, look for small to medium-sized sweet potatoes that have smooth skin and are firm and free of soft spots. Store whole unpeeled sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week (do not refrigerate them or they will dry out).
Before using, scrub the sweet potatoes with a clean produce brush and rinse with cool water. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel sweet potatoes. Using a knife, cut off any woody portions and ends. Cut into bite-size cubes.
When cutting a sweet potato, be sure to always use a stainless steel knife. Using a carbon blade will cause it to darken.
Sweet Potato Cooking Tips
To boil sweet potatoes, use a saucepan or Dutch oven that is large enough to hold the sweet potatoes without crowding them. Fill the pot about half full with water (put in just enough water to cover the sweet potatoes) and add a dash of salt. Bring the water to boiling. Add the sweet potatoes and cover the pan, cooking them for about 10 to 12 minutes, until just tender on the outside, but resistant in the center when pierced with a knife. For softer, more tender sweet potatoes, cook them longer, for about 25 to 30 minutes.
Place a colander in the sink. Remove the lid from the pan and carefully pour the sweet potatoes into the colander. Drain off the water. Set the sweet potatoes aside until they cool enough to handle. You can also run cold water over them to quick-cool.
Instead of boiling, you can scrub the sweet potatoes well and then roast them with their skins on in the oven. Poke them a few times with the tines of a fork (to prevent explosion) and roast them uncovered at 425 deg F for about an hour. Let them cool for a bit, then slice into bite-sized chunks for use in a variety of dishes.
They're also excellent on their own when sautéed for a few minutes in olive oil, butter, or coconut oil with a bit of salt.
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Brown, Lisa Holderness, BHG.com, "How to Boil Sweet Potatoes" (http://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cook-with-fruits-and-vegetables/how-to-boil-sweet-potatoes/).
Cooking & Kitchen Tips, Sweet Potatoes (http://www.foodreference.com/html/tsweetpotatoes.html).
Kinsman, Kat, AOL Food, "Q&A with Emeril Lagasse," (http://food.aol.com/emeril).
Lagasse, Emeril, with Marcelle Bienvenu and Felicia Willett, Every Day's a Party, Louisiana Recipes for Celebrating with Family and Friends, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1999. Lagasse, Emeril, From Emeril's Kitchens: Favorite Recipes from Emeril's Restaurants, HarperCollins Publisher Inc., NY, NY, 2003.