I have a very clear memory of standing in the small appliance aisle at Target, holding a registry-scanny-gun-thing, and having a philosophical and spirited discussion with my future husband about deep fryers.
He desperately wanted to put one on the registry. I said that not only was it unnecessary, but we didn’t have the space for any more appliances in our tiny, one-bedroom apartment. Total buzzkill, right? Eventually, I caved, and he happily got to press the trigger at the deep fryer of his choice. I was secretly thrilled when we opened our gifts after the wedding and there wasn’t a deep fryer in sight.
But, I dearly love that husband of mine, and a few years later, when we had a little more storage space, and a little extra cash, I bought him a deep fryer for Christmas. He was thrilled. I was happy he was happy. And he made me some fries that night, which made me happy because my belly was happy.
I was totally right in the aisle of Target, though. Aside from that inaugural fry event, and one particular evening when my husband very heroically satisfied an intense pregnancy craving for potato chips, I don’t remember that deep fryer getting used at all. Back in the spring, when we were going through the kitchen for the yard sale, he conceded that the fryer wasn’t worth the space it took to store it, and we ended up selling it for a couple of bucks to some guy who looked really stoked to make some fries.
Now that we’re deep fryer-less, I can tell you one thing for certain, you don’t need a deep fryer to deep fry things. All you need is a pot, some oil, and a good thermometer. BAM. Deep fryer. If you happen to be working on your wedding registry right now, might I recommend you skip the Fry Daddy and instead put on a good, heavy-bottom Dutch oven and a candy/fry thermometer? Trust me. You’ll just end up selling the deep fryer at a yard sale when you’re an old married couple. But a good Dutch oven and a good thermometer will last you a lifetime.
Of course, there is also another option if you want to skip the frying all together—oven “frying”. It isn’t exactly the same. But you can get pretty close if you follow the method I talk about here. This post isn’t about oven baking fries, though. We’re going all in and doing this the classic way. With a big ole vat of bubbling oil.
Deep frying has such a stigma about it, but the “unhealthy” stamp that deep-fried foods get is a remnant of the war against fat during the 1980s and 90s. We’re past that now, right? We know that fat isn’t the enemy? So we can stop marking deep-fried foods as the enemy of all enemies, k? Deep frying is tasty, efficient, and, honestly, super fun! And if you do it in moderation, it’s a totally acceptable addition to your healthy lifestyle. I promise.
The key to making sure your deep-frying trends healthier is to pick a healthier fat for frying. Skip the hydrogenated oils with trans fats like vegetable or soybean oil, and instead go for something like grapeseed, peanut, or even olive oil. Yes, olive oil! Most deep-frying is done right at around 350°—just shy of the point where olive oil starts to break down. No worries about smoking up your kitchen just as long as you keep an eye on your thermometer.
Okay, so this recipe is kind of a cop out because I’ve already posted about beer-soaking fries, but I really wanted to make sure the info was out there about how to make beer soaked sweet potato fries traditionally. It’s just as epic as it sounds (and I pretty much never use the “e” word, so you know it must be something special). Like I said above, if you have the fear of deep-frying in you, you can definitely take your soaked sweet potatoes, coat them in a bit of cornstarch, and bake them.
But I really think you should try deep-frying them. It’s a bucket list thing, you know? Just try it. Once.
I wont bore you by rehashing all the reasons why you should be soaking your fries (check out this post or this one for more info, if you’re really interested), but I will tell you that even if I never convinced you to soak fries before, the idea of infusing fries with the tasty flavor of beer should be evidence enough that you need to try it. IT’S BEER. AND FRIES. TOGETHER.
If you aren’t a huge beer fan, I will say that the beer flavor isn’t overwhelming here—it’s like a little hint of beertasticness. It’s nice and subtle. So much so that my beer-brewing (and deep fry-loving) husband couldn’t quite pinpoint what made these fries different. “They taste different from regular sweet potato fries, but I can’t figure out why? I really like it though. Yum. That’s so good. What IS that?” It’s beer, baby. BEER. Enjoy!
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled
- 1–12 ounce bottle of beer (whatever you like to drink!)
- 2 quarts frying oil (grapeseed, peanut, or olive will all work)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup water
- Slice the sweet potatoes into thin fries—less than ½" in width. Place the fries in a large bowl, and pour the beer over top. Fill the bowl with water until the fries are just covered. Let soak for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight.
- When ready to fry, remove the fries from the bowl, and place on a kitchen towel. Pat dry with paper towels until as dry as possible (water is the enemy of your skin when you're deep frying—any water droplets left on the fries will "pop" when they hit the oil and burn the crapola out of you).
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pot (like a cast iron Dutch oven) over medium-high heat until a thermometer reaches between 325°-350°.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the cornstarch and water.
- Working with 5-10 fries at a time, dip them in the cornstarch mixture, and toss to coat. Let the excess drip off, and then immediately drop the fries in the hot oil. Quickly batter and add a few more handfuls of fries (don't crowd the pot, but you also don't want it to take you an hour to fry everything).
- Stir the fries a few times to keep the from sticking to each other or the bottom of the pot. Fries are done when they float and are golden brown—about 5 minutes. Remove fries from oil using a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle on salt while hot.
- Repeat with remaining fries and batter—the cornstarch batter tends separate, so make sure to re-whisk it before each batch.