A smoky cumin rub, spicy maple butter and fried (yes, fried!) fresh sage transform anti-oxidant rich sweet potatoes into an elegant dish that perfectly complements a wide range of entrees. When purchasing sweet potatoes, look for smooth, unblemished skins. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a week.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and scrub potatoes. Mix together salt and cumin. While skins are damp, rub all over with salt mixture (reserve any remaining salt mixture for another use). Bake potatoes directly on oven rack for 1 hour, turning once to crisp evenly on all sides. (Place a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack beneath potatoes to catch drippings.)
Meanwhile, for spiced butter, in a small bowl, stir together softened butter, maple syrup, and crushed red pepper. Using waxed paper, roll the butter into a log. Chill.
Heat 3 inches of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add sage leaves to the oil; fry sage leaves for 2 minutes, until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain fried leaves on paper towels.
Cool potatoes for 5 minutes. If desired, brush off some of the salt. With a sharp knife, make a lengthwise cut in potatoes; push ends toward center to open. Top each potato with 1 tablespoon spiced butter and sage leaves. Reserve remaining butter mixture for another use.