Baked Yucca Root Fries with Grilled Banana Ketchup

Yucca fries with banana ketchup was something that I discovered when visiting Chicago a few years ago. I was eating dinner with a friend at the now defunct Skewerz in Wicker Park, a trendy Hawaiian fusion restaurant that - among their many options - offered yucca fries and banana ketchup as a side. I had never actually had yucca root before, and certainly not as french fries, but ever since I tried it, I've been trying to recreate the magic. Fortunately for me, I've found this recipe. Fortunately for you, you can try it too! If you're not a fan of bananas, don't sweat it! I would mix a little bit of yellow curry into some standard ketchup for another zesty alternative to your bottle of Heinz. ------------------------------------------- Baked Yucca Fries with Grilled Banana Ketchup To Make Ketchup: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 5 ripe bananas 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste 1 cup pitted and chopped dates 1 tablespoon minced thyme 2 1/2 cups water 2 cups apple cider vinegar 3/4 cup light brown sugar 1/4 cup molasses 1/4 cup honey plus 2 tablespoon honey 2 1/2 tablespoons brandy (optional) 1 tablespoon smoked paprika 2 teaspoon crystalized ginger 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon pinch ground all-spice pinch ground nutmeg To Make Yucca Fries: 1 lb peeled and cut (into 2”x ¼” sticks) yucca root 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste 1. For banana ketchup: Preheat grill or grill pan on high. Brush each banana (with its peel still intact) with oil. Grill bananas on each side for about 5 minutes. Remove from grill and allow bananas to cool. 2. Peel bananas and break up into chunks and place into a blender. Add onion, garlic, tomato paste, dates, thyme, and water to the blender and blend until smooth, about 3 minutes. 3. Pour mixture into a large pot and stir in remaining ketchup ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil; lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. (If the mixture gets too thick, add water 2-3 tablespoons at a time) 4. Strain mixture through a fine sieve and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. (ketchup will hold for 5 to 6 months) 5. Preheat oven to 375°F. 6. Pour yucca fries into a large pot and fill with water. Place over medium- high heat and bring to a boil. Boil fries for about 15 minutes or until just fork tender. 7. Drain fries and spread onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together and redistribute fried into a single layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until fries are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Lightly season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with banana ketchup.

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