The term “yam” has been applied to sweet potatoes in U.S. marketing since the middle of the 20th century. For the bright orange color expected in sweet potato fries, it is recommended to use garnet yams (which are not yams at all). Sweet potato fries are gaining popularity and we’re finding them in more and more restaurants, but you shouldn’t have to go out to get them. Try this recipe with accompanying aioli for dipping.
Makes enough for 6-7 people
• For the fries:
1 gallon of peanut oil for frying
3 lbs. of organic garnet yams
Salt to taste after frying
Preheat oil in a deep fryer to 300 degrees F. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Slice into roughly 4″ strips, 1/2″ thick. Fry in small batches for 3 minutes.
Let drain in the basket for a moment, then transfer to cloth or paper towels to drain even more oil. Cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Increase the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees F, and fry the sweet potatoes again in small batches for 4 minutes.
Repeat the draining process, but don’t cool! Salt immediately. Serve with spiced brown sugar and maple aioli.
• For the aioli:
2/3 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of organic maple syrup
1 pasture-raised egg yolk
2 tbs. of brown sugar
2 tsp. of lemon juice
1 tsp. of Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg
Put everything except the oil in a food processor. Pulse until well blended. To add the oil, turn the food processor to full “on” and slowly add the oil in a very, very fine and thin stream until the aioli is thickened. Refrigerate until serving.
Corporate restaurants tend to forgo quality for profits. Shipments go out to each establishment with boxes and crates of frozen, canned, and hyper-processed ingredients. Oftentimes, that feeling you get after eating somewhere like the Cakecheese Factory or Backout Steakhouse is an indicator of your body reacting poorly to what you’ve just fed it, and you’re getting charged a hefty bill for the damage. But dear reader, we have found that Texas Roadhouse, a corporate restaurant, makes nearly everything from scratch at each of its 300+ restaurants across the country. The only items not made in-house are the applesauce, light ranch dressing, and steak fries. And to sweeten the deal further, this casual eatery doesn’t put nearly the same dent in your wallet as some of the other corporate places do.
The award-winning ribs are very popular and there is an entree option, but we wanted to show you variety so we got the appetizer version. Served on a bed of steak fries, the rib meat was smoky, sweet, and fell off the bone like it was waiting to let go. There was a great bark enhancing the smokiness, which also helped to highlight the sweet side.
The fried onion’s crispy batter was not at all greasy, nor was the onion overcooked. With the crispness of the batter plus the slight crunch of the onions, the texture of the “cactus blossom” appetizer was ideal. The onion was slightly sweet, and the creamy, tangy dipping sauce, called “Cajun horseradish,” offered a tiny bite of heat.
“Each plate is served with your choice of two sides.” We each got a house salad with blue cheese because we both wanted some greenery. Remember that (almost) everything is scratch made, so that includes the dressing and the croutons. The house salad is also piled with cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, and hard boiled egg, making for a simple yet satisfying salad.
August went for red meat, since this is a steakhouse after all. “Hand-cut to perfection,” this is Texas Roadhouse’s “most flavorful steak.” With just the right seasoning, an excellent char, and cooked to the desired temperature, this was a great hunk of meat with a nice bone to take home for Bea the Dog. August’s second side was a baked sweet potato, and she upgraded to the option of loading it. In fact, any of the potato sides can be loaded in its own way (sweet potato as you see here, regular baked potato that you’ll see below, and even mashed potatoes and fries have their own treatments). For the sweet potato, “loaded” means it is topped off with caramel sauce and marshmallows. Baked to model doneness, the creamy sweet potato with such toppings was a side and a dessert in one.
Zach’s second side was also a potato, but savory and, as Zach says, “loaded to the gills” with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and bacon. The skin was rubbed with salt, a nice touch to add greater depth of flavor. The potato insides were fluffy, and when mixed around with the toppings, this was a hearty and delightful side.
Zach’s main dish was this massive country fried chicken, pounded from an all white meat chicken breast, then hand-battered, fried, and topped with cream gravy. The chicken was crispy from the light breading, yet tender and moist – tender enough for a fork and no knife. The cream gravy was rich and pepper-based, which was “perfect with the chicken,” according to Zach. It could have been very easy and convenient for the kitchen to throw together a frozen chicken breast and powder-based gravy, but Texas Roadhouse takes the time to make real food with real cooking techniques.
There are significantly more locations in the eastern half of the country, but there is at least one restaurant in every single continental state. If you’re out of your area, maybe doing a road trip for the summer or a business jaunt, look for a Texas Roadhouse nearby and you can trust in the quality.
For over 40 years, and now with almost 70 locations, The Habit is aptly named. You’ll get roped in once you try it, and you can’t beat the prices for the supreme quality.
Walking to fill a soda cup, we passed by the pepper bar. We thought this was a nice detail and something you don’t see often at all. Ranch was available by request as they keep it cold behind the counter.
Zach says this place is smart because although there isn’t the biggest variety of burgers and sandwich (but you don’t need variety when there’s quality), they have lots to choose from when it comes to bread. Typically the burgers come on a bun with seeds, but since Zach can’t eat seeds, he got to pick from wheat bun, French roll, grilled sourdough, and plain bun. He went with the plain bun and also added cheese and bacon to his double. A double burger from here is a little bit bigger than your average diner burger. You’re not seeing double, though: adding cheese gets you two slices automatically! The hormone-free beef for their burgers from Ideal Meat is juicy and flavorful. The veggie toppings are cut fresh daily, which only enhances the taste.
Always the one to be different, August got the albacore tuna filet sandwich, standard with lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce, and teriyaki sauce. Cooked medium, the fish was tender and moist, and a lighter lunchtime choice. For its price you can’t get any better for the quality, because for them to serve their tuna at medium temperature, it has to be high quality and fresh.
All three sides we tried were perfectly salted. August was even shocked at first upon seeing salted onion rings, until Zach told her that’s how they should be served and most restaurants do it wrong. And oh, they taste so good when done right. The sweet potato fries had a light coating to enhance the crispiness; the average place that makes sweet potato fries puts them out a little limp.
The Habit has both shakes and malts, featuring chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mocha, and coffee, made with real ice cream. The whipped cream is real, too. If you like Minute Maid light lemonade, they have refreshing pomegranate light lemonade here! We spoke with Jaime, the manager, who was very informative and helpful in answering our questions about the food. The staff is polite, so they’re doing a great job of keeping their customers and employees happy. It’s a really, really busy place, but it’s worth it.