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RBR Tailgate: Say goodbye to Summer and hello to Fall — Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado Aioli Dip

The turning of the seasons means that we must enjoy the avocados while they last, even as we greet the sweet potatoes

It doesn’t feel like it this week, I know, but the end of summer is rapidly approaching. And with its passage, so too do we lose avocado season as Fall begins in earnest. This recipe then is a nice homage to both seasons, combining the mild earthiness of autumnal sweet potatoes with the brilliant green veggie-berry that has (allegedly) captured an entire generation.

The millennial’s best friend: avocados.

Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado Aioli Dip

“What is aioli? Isn’t that just a fancy name for mayo, comrade?! Why is your mayo puttin’ on airs?!”

Well, you’re not too far off. Both condiment bases are emulsions — meaning ingredients that simply don’t play well in the wild. In the case of mayo and aioli, it begins with a combination of egg and oil and lemon juice. But the types oil differs (olive for aioli instead of canola for mayo), and aioli always has garlic. You can make your own, sure. But TBH, properly aerating these two ingredients and getting them to bind is a PITA.

So, we’re going to hit up today’s tailgate sponsor, Duke’s, and use their Light Olive Oil Mayo as our base instead of whipping all this together by hand. When one is tailgating, rushed, tired or simply out of ingredients, cheating is always encouraged.

(My stepdad was a chef, and I can gussy up the hell out of a Beef Wellington or souffle for you. But I follow the Alton Brown ethos of utility as well as tastiness: time-saving, affordable, with absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel. And I bet most of you are that way too, particularly when entertaining.)

Today’s entry into your tailgate or Super Bowl Party repertoire will be a crowd-pleaser, I swear.

Avocado Aioli Dip

  • 4-6 Ounces of Light Mayo with Olive Oil (or 115-170 liquid grams; 12 to 34 cup)
  • Juice of one large lemon (about 1 ounce, 2 TBSP, or 30ML)
  • 12 ounce (1 large tbsp) minced garlic
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 2 TSP paprika
  • 34 TSP chili powder
  • 2 medium avocados

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients: beginning with adding lemon to the mayo, then stir in spices very thoroughly. Blend well. Refrigerate while dealing with the avocados.

Peel and core the avocados, and dice into small cubes. Be very careful here. Every day in America, literally two dozen people are sent to the emergency room for hand injuries incurred by slicing avocados. (This is where I remind you that these same people can have children unabated, operate motor vehicles, generally own firearms, actually vote...and may even be your boss).

Slowly combine the cubed avocado with the aioli base until thoroughly blended. Your taste may vary on this one. Some prefer the avocado to be creamy and smooth; others prefer a chunkier dip; and still others like a nice mixture of the two (I prefer a mostly smooth base with some smaller chunks).

If you find the mixture is too thick, add just enough additional lemon juice to reach desired consistency.

Immediately refrigerate. Mayo and aioli can develop salmonella after just four hours at room temperature. If you make your own mayo/aioli with fresh eggs, it can do so after just two hours in the sun. So, maybe rethink that potato salad at the next family reunion.

Sweet Potato Fries

These require a bit more work on the front-end, but the secret to delicious sweet potato fries really does lie in the prep work beforehand.

  • Four medium sweet potatoes (try to select the ones that look more carrot-shaped if you want crispy nutrient-rich skin; fatter ones if — like a rabbi — you are not a skin enthusiast).
  • Chili powder
  • Black pepper
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Paprika
  • Parchment paper (optional)

Scrub the hell out of the skin, removing all dirt, pits, eyelets, and nasty nicks. I find that using a wadded up ball of aluminum foil under hot running water to take off the obstinate funk really is the best way to do it. God only knows how many hobos have been fondling your tater at Kroger. (I once had a hobo fondle my tater in the Kroger produce aisle, but I was broke and rent was due.)

Slice your potatoes in half, width-wise. Then slice the halves again, length-wise. Cut the remaining quarters into fry-shapes, wedges, or cubes. When done, give them a quick rinse and then place in a large bowl with ice water for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove, drain well, and pat dry using paper towels. (Those cheapo Walmart specials are perfect for this). For the record, this same procedure works excellently for making french fries or cod for fish n’ chips.

Place your potatoes in a gallon-sized freezer bag, add just enough olive oil to coat the potatoes without oil pooling in the bag. Then comes the fun part: Open your ad hoc shaker bag and start dumping seasonings in there. You really cannot go wrong here. The base begins with cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, paprika and black pepper.

From there, go nuts. Occasionally I’ll toss in some salt to taste, occasionally some onion powder, sometimes bagel seasoning, occasionally curry powder. Really, this is idiot-proof and varies based on your preference, what’s leftover in the pantry, or willingness to experiment.

Mix everything very well, coating all the potatoes evenly. Then, you have a couple of different ways to cook these. You can either place them on a rack in your air fryer, line on racks in your dehydrator if you’d rather make a more durable sort of travel snack. Or, most probably, if you lack an air fryer / dehydrator, and just have an oven, place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and place into a 410-degree preheated oven. Bake for 18-23 minutes, then flip, and bake an additional 12-15 minutes.

When the parchment paper has thoroughly browned, and the oil has leached into it creating a lovely orange hue, then they’re ready to come out of the oven and immediately be placed on a paper towel-lined plate to cool.

You can add a lot of stuff here to them if you wish: fry seasoning, tomato powder, Missus Dash, salt and pepper, more chili powder, taco seasoning — you’re constrained only by your imagination.

While still warm, serve with avocado aioli dip (chilled or room temperature). Store leftover dip in an airtight container, refrigerate well. It will be good for about two-three days. Fresh baked sweet potatoes are best eaten that day...but you were going to let fries go to waste anyway, now were you?

Serves approximately 4-6...or two really fat bastards...or one hungry teenage boy.

If you try this, let us know how it goes. If you know a variant, we’d be delighted to hear other suggestions. Thanks again to Duke’s for sponsoring the site, and all hail our mayonnaise overlord.