I love a good sweet potato fry, just like the next guy. And generally, I think they’re just fine when cut thin and baked in the oven. But some years back, upon my and my wife’s first trip to Nashville, a good friend and resident of Music City took us to a burger joint called Gabby’s. The burger was delicious, but my attention was drawn to something else. Nestled there beside my burger was a great handful of sweet potato fries, each as thick as a working man’s thumb. They were a deep burnt orange, outlined in a thin layer of deep brown. The interior was soft and sweet like custard and was armored with a thick layer of airy-crisp crust. Perhaps most magical was that the hot oil had drawn out some of the internal sugars from the potato so that it was flecked with a dark and smoky caramel. It wouldn’t be a bit strange to eat these fried jewels on their own, but when it comes to cooking, I’m never one for doing things half-way–it’s all or nothing. Which is why I decided to pair these sweet potato fries with one of my very favorite condiments of all time.Because I don’t know the name of it, I’ll just have to describe it. If you’ve been to any respectable taco truck, you’ve seen it. There at the counter, enrobed in a plastic squeeze bottle, it’s that ultra-spicy, creamy, green sauce that you can’t get enough of. And if you thought it was good on tacos, you’ll be pleased to know that it is also a friendly companion to a basket of sweet potato fries–or most anything else. So let’s get to it.
Sweet Potato Fries with Taco Truck Sauce (Serves 2 or 3)
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2 liters canola oil, for frying
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 yellow onion
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
salt, to taste
To get started, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Meanwhile, slice the potatoes length-wise, about 1/2 inch thick. Place them into the boiling water and let them cook for 6 minutes (they should be tender to the tooth, but not mushy). As the potatoes cook, place the jalapenos and 1/2 a yellow onion into a small pot and cover with water. Place them on medium high heat and let them cook for 10-15 minutes. The jalapenos should just soften.
When the potatoes are par-cooked, drain them in a colander, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer to cool. Pour the oil into a large pot and place it on high heat. As the oil heats, work on the Taco Truck sauce. When the jalapenos have softened, drain them, remove the tops and throw them into a cup to be blended. Add the onion, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Using an immersion blender, blend these ingredients together until smooth. Add salt to taste. This makes quite a lot and, lucky for you, this sauce can be used on anything–put it on chicken, grilled steak, tacos(of course), shrimp, serve it with chips, vegetables, whatever. Place the sauce in the fridge to cool.
At this point, the oil should be nice and hot. Fry the potatoes in batches, making sure not to remove them from the hot oil until they are deeply bronzed and crisp–you want them almost slightly burned. Once cooked, place them onto a few sheets of napkins, season them generously with salt and pepper, get the Taco Truck sauce out of the fridge and get to dipping. Serving these with an ice-cold beer would not be out of order.