If you’re gonna survive the 2020 Halloween season, you’ll need to make your own fun. Many of the things we formerly relied on will be closed, or altered to the point of pointlessness. It’s a DIY-or-die situation.
Here’s an idea: Cook spooky stuff! Buy one of those overpriced recipe mags from Stop & Shop’s impulse section, make some mummy hot dogs, and see where life takes you. I’ve done that sort of thing plenty of times, and it’s never failed to make the Halloween season feel like the Halloween season.
I’ll start you off with an easy one. Here’s my recipe for spicy sweet potato fries, because sweet potatoes are autumnal at heart, and appropriately orange.
Some of you aren’t big on sweet potatoes. I’m not, either. I came out of the womb cursing sweet potatoes, and was of legal drinking age by the time I could eat a forkful without complaint. If you’re not quite ready to jump in the pool but are maybe okay with dipping in your toes, these fries are perfect.
You will need:
– Sweet Potatoes
– Olive Oil
– Cayenne Pepper
This is a basic recipe. So basic, actually, that I’m being super presumptuous when I call it my own. It’s so hard to fuck up that if you stopped reading here and just went for it, there’s still an 85% chance that you’ll get nice fries.
Cut the potatoes. This is the one challenging thing about sweet potato fries. The way you cut them affects the fries in so many different ways. There’s not necessarily a “wrong” way to do it, though I’d say that more thinly-cut fries might work better for someone who’s generally apprehensive about sweet potatoes.
(I love how I’m talking about sweet potatoes like they’re some exotic food that literally anyone besides me has ever had issues with. Tomorrow on Dino Drac, my 12-step guide to enjoying ice.)
If you wanna cut the fries my way, leave them really long, fairly wide, but with the same depth as, say, the fries at Wendy’s. They should be BIG fries, but not obscenely so.
Take the fries and throw ‘em in a bowl. The next few paragraphs would traditionally include precise measurements, but I don’t play that way in real life, so why bother pretending?
Coat them with a good amount of olive oil. You’re not making soup, but you could think of it as dressing a salad. Use whatever amount of oil you’d use in a salad of the same size. And then double it, because nothing matters anymore.
Now it’s time to spice things up. Add lots of salt, and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. Seriously, go for broke with the cayenne. Then add a generous amount of black pepper, if only because the dark grinds contrast beautifully with the orange potatoes. Like bats swarming a sunset.
You’ll want to be more conservative with the sugar, because “sweet sweet potato fries” is redundant. Use enough to make its presence known, but do not allow sugar to believe that it’s the star.
Hey, did you preheat your oven to 400 degrees? I didn’t tell you to, but I hope it was implied.
Arrange the fries on a baking sheet. (FTR, mine was foil-lined and hosed with Pam.) Pop the tray into the oven and let it bake for 15-20 minutes. Pull it out, and use tongs to flip EVERY SINGLE ONE of the fries. It’s annoying, but you have to do it. When you’re finished, toss the tray back into the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes.
You’ll know the fries are done when some are burned and others look like they’ve barely cooked at all. With sweet potato fries, this is the way. My advice is to pick the worst looking fry and eat it. If you can live with the results, it’s time to take them out.
If you succeed, you’ll be rewarded with delicious and very spicy sweet potato fries. Because of the inherent sweetness, the spices you add will hit so much differently than they would on white potatoes. Salt becomes saltier, pepper becomes pepperier. They’re really, really good!
Oh, and don’t skip the ketchup. I mean it. The fries are fine on their own, but the real magic happens once they hit ketchup. It’s like when you throw a Shellder at a Slowpoke and end up with a whole new Pokemon.
Yeah, this is how we’re celebrating Halloween in 2020. We’re making fries. Through a certain lens, that’s… actually not so bad?