You will be captivated by the scent emanating from your oven once you start roasting our saison butter sweet potato fries. You might find it hard to wait until you start seeing some of the “fries” begin to char (a tell tell sign that they are done). They are so good. Even if you don’t generally like sweet potatoes, this method of preparing them could change your attitude.
You can serve saison butter sweet potato fries on a platter and treat them as a dinner side (with pork chops perhaps?) or simply approach them as a self-standing meal, along the lines of an afternoon beer snack. Either way, the saison butter coating will impress you. For the following reasons.
The characteristic dryness and the complex herbal, fruity spiciness of the saison (along with its lack of bitterness) marry with the melted butter so well that the results (in our humble opinion) rival, if not outright surpass, the flavors of classic beurre blanc. Because there is no acidity, just flavor and enticing aroma. Especially if you score a fragrant peppery saison or a particularly herbal one… Saisons are just sooo delicious. Not only to drink:) Which is why we love, love cooking with them and pairing them with food.
Find more info on the saison style (aka farmhouse ale) and its origins in this post. It is interesting, I promise.
The saison we used in this recipe is Chris’ latest creation. Home brewed per his tried and true staple saison recipe but with a new twist. He brews the basic recipe at least three times a year, with some variations such as raspberry second fermentation or inclusion of rye in the grain bill for extra spiciness and dryer mouthfeel.
This time he used very floral hops in the boil and second fermented the saison with French oak chips soaked in chardonnay for three months. It ended up with more pronounced floral notes and an elegant presence of muskiness and hints of vanilla (from the oak). Only moderately dry but with the unmistakable spicy esters of saison yeast. Pretty darn good. We are half way through it already, despite having a ton of other beer to attend to.
For a short while Chris entertained the idea of also ‘dry hopping’ it with sage during the second fermentation. He went back and forth on that and wasn’t sure how much sage exactly to use (he would have erred on the ‘not enough’ side of the equation of course) since it is such a potent herb aroma wise. In the end, he decided to simply let the floral hops and the chardonnay soaked French oak chips do their magic, which they did. Plenty of time to make a sage ‘dry hopped’ saison in the future. (I cannot wait to taste it though and dream up a cooking with beer recipe or two with it.)
There was nothing to stop us from adding sage to the saison butter though, just before removing it from the heat and letting it cool down a bit. The fragrance of the sage while roasting the saison butter sweet potato fries was a great partner to the aromas released by the saison…Absolutely a combination you want to smell in your kitchen at some point.
The nature of the saison butter sauce is such that it effortlessly clings to food and once slightly cooled off, coating the hand cut sweet potato ‘fries’ takes no effort. You basically toss them with the saison butter in a mixing bowl and run your fingers through a few times before spreading them over a parchment paper lined baking sheet (or two, if using smaller sized ones).
As garnish (and a crunch factor) we used pomegranate seeds and some fresh sage (kind of nice to have the roasted, crispy sage bits and the fresh ones together) and we drizzled balsamic glaze over them. Both the pomegranate and balsamic glaze brought a touch of acidity and nicely complemented the saison butter sweet potato fries.
We do recommend that you use a classic saison ale for this recipe, however you will get good results with a number of other ales, just different, depending on the specific brew’s flavor profile.
You can also use Belgian white ales (Witbier) of Belgian golden ales, pumpkin ales, German wheat ales (Weissbier), amber ales (not too hoppy) and even go with a dry-hopped pale ale, especially if the hops are more floral than citrusy or fruity. You just want to stay away from very bitter beers with IBUs exceeding 30-40.
Tip: If you want the sweet potatoes to be extra crispy consider soaking them in saison for a few hours before cooking them. The beer will get rid of some of the starch and allow them to crisp up better while in the oven. It will also impart its dominant flavors. After soaking and before roasting the potatoes, you will drain and pat them dry and will discard the saison. Then if you follow the recipe as presented below in the recipe card you will create a crispier version of these saison butter sweet potato fries.
Last words of advice – it is imperative that you do not overcrowd the baking sheet and leave plentiful space in between the ‘fries’ as they roast.
- 3 large sweet potatoes (or 4 medium sized)
- ½ stick butter
- 6 oz saison ale (substitute with Belgian wit or golden ale, Weissbier, amber ale)
- 12 fresh sage leaves, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- seeds from half a pomegranate
- balsamic reduction
- Peel and hand cut the potatoes in fries-like strips.
- Place in a bowl and cover with water. If you so desire and if time allows, you can soak them in saison for up to 12 hours before proceeding with the recipe, they will end up crispier).
- Chop the sage leaves and divide in two equal parts.
- Prepare the saison butter by bringing the saison to simmer and adding the butter and salt & pepper. Stir until butter is melted. Add half of the sage leaves and remove from heat. Let cool down.
- Turn the oven to 425ºF.
- Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. Place in a dry bowl and pour the saison butter with the sage on top. Coat well.
- Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) with parchment paper.
- Spread the potatoes in a single layer and leave space between them so they can cook evenly and develop a crispy coating.
- Roast in the oven turning them once for about 20-30 minutes, or until they begin to get crispy and you spot charring here and there. Roasting time is directly correlated to how thick the 'fries' are.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter.
- Sprinkle the remaining fresh sage and the pomegranate seeds, drizzle balsamic reduction to taste. Serve.
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