Crispy oven baked sweet potato fries garnished with Jamaican jerk seasoning.
In the culinary world, you cannot mention the word “jerk” without thinking of that beautiful Caribbean island called Jamaica. Jamaica is home to some of the most AMAZING jerk recipes you will find. It has the monopoly on all things jerk, you’ll even find the country hosting annual competitions.
Now I’m going to give you a brief explanation to the definition of jerk because I think some people simply use the word loosely or don’t know what it is and I think it’s important to know about the culinary principles of jerk. In short jerk is a culinary technique derived from the original inhabitants the Amerindian people – Arawaks and Carib. These groups of people they were first settlers on the island before Columbus arrived.
Jamaican was once known as Xaymaca by the Arawark people which translates to the land of wood and water. The Amerindian people had an ingenious way of cooking meat on pimento wood which was known as jerk. Jerk really encompasses a few things not only how meat was slow cooked on a barbecue of pimento wood, also the marinade which was full of herbs and spice and the depth of flavour of the meat.
One notable spice in jerk seasoning is pimento which means peppers. When the Spanish and Europeans came to Jamaica they mistook allspice for black pepper thus calling it pimento (pepper).
Today you will find an array of jerk recipes, anything and everything can be “jerked” to a degree but the true flavour comes from the smoking technique.
While this Jamaican jerk sweet potato fries recipe doesn’t contain that raw, authentic smoky taste, it’s a great way to introduce my readers to a dry rub. I make this several different ways because I like to tweak the flavour depending on what I’m cooking, sometimes the spiciness is more pronounced and other times the seasoning is more on the herbaceous side. Nevertheless, the most important ingredient in jerk is pimento as known as allspice without this there is not jerk seasoning, it’s simply not doable.
In order to make this dry rub you’ll need to combine the following ingredients – 1 tablespoon pimento berries/ground allspice, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 tablespoon of ginger, 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, 2 tablespoon coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon himalayan pink salt and 1/4 teaspoon of chilli.
I suggest milling the above ingredients in a coffee grinder to ensure they are thoroughly combined. Then sprinkle this on the fries when you have cooked. Speaking of fries, I used this red skin sweet potato, which is commonly used in Caribbean cooking. They can be purchased at Caribbean/Asian supermarket for a reasonable price.
Cooking fries in the oven is SO much more healthier, hardly any coconut oil is used, just a small amount to coat and crisp the fries and then simply sprinkle on the jerk seasoning which can be stored for later us in a jar.
- 2 large sweet potatoes (red skin)
- Jamaican jerk seasoning (see notes for recipe)
- coconnut oil
- Preheat the oven at gas mark 7/220C/200F
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Using a paring knife peel both of the sweet potatoes and discard the skin.
- Cut the potatoes lengthways into long strips before cutting into small fries.
- Melt the coconut oil and coat the fries with a generous amount of oil, using your hands to saturate the each piece of potato.
- Oven bake the fries for approximately 40 minutes, throughout the given time, flip the fries to ensure they are cooked evenly and crisp. The fries should crisp a little and that's when they are ready to remove from the oven.
- Sprinkle the jerk seasoning over the fries and serve accordingly.