Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet potatoes done right....

 I realize most of you are hooked on those sweet potatoes aka yams you get every Thanksgiving - you know...the ones covered in marshmallows or brown sugar, or some other confectionary concoction that all but drowns out the real taste of sweet potatoes and gives you a sugar high that only copious amounts of Thanksgiving turkey ingested to the point of gluttony can bring you down into a comatose post-prandial lump on the couch.  OK...maybe I exaggerated JUST a little, but I never liked sweet potatoes, most likely for that very reason - if Mother Nature was kind enough to give us a sweet vegetable, WHY THE HECK DO YOU WANT TO PUT MORE SUGAR ON THEM??!! what is the point? No offense to those yam aficianados that really love marshmallow sweets, but HOW does that make them "better"?

Oh...and FYI - Sweet potatoes and yams = same thing - just depends on what side of the tracks you come from - North or South :-)

When I joined my local CSA, Breezy Willow Farm, I got a lot of sweet potatoes.  My daughter immediately pounced on them and pronounced them delish.  This is the same daughter mind you, that for about 18 years I couldn't get even the faintest bit of interest in cooking, other than to make a batch of boxed brownies.  Once she hit 19 though, the cooking gene must have kicked in, because she is turning into quite the accomplished cook.  It makes a mom proud :)  I was happy to give her my sweets, because I didn't "like" them (you see where this is going, don't you)  One day she sent me a recipe she had Stumbled Upon, "Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes" and they sounded like they would be really, really good.  They were savory - oh yeah, there was the obligatory brown sugar, but that was only to put a nice carmelized coating on them and to lull you into a false sense of security until you bit into them and an explosion of spice assailed your senses.  I had to try them.  I made them, popped them in the oven, and thus began my love for sweet potatoes. good as they were, I did have to peel, cut, parboil, smush, brush, sprinkle, turn, brush, sprinkle, etc...and sometimes that's just too much work.  So, I decided to do something different.  Easier.  Much easier.

I peeled the sweet potatoes and diced them up.

Put them on parchment paper (I am now addicted to using parchment paper - SO easy to clean up , and nothing sticks) drizzle with some olive oil - toss.

Now, mix all the brown sugar/spices the recipes tells you to mix up (I call it a 'rub') and take that spice rub and sprinkle liberally over the potatoes.  Here are the ingredients, but I urge you to visit Donalyn 's blog and look at the original recipe, plus all the other neat stuff she has!

1 & 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon New Mexico chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (I didn't have any of this, so I just used 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic

 Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, then toss them around a bit to turn, sprinkle a little more rub over them, cook them for about 15 minutes more and THIS is what you wind up with after about 20-25 minutes:

Absolutely amazing.  I had them for lunch three days in a row :-)  Much less time than the original, no extra pots to clean- I love the original don't get me wrong, but I love this version more :-)   I didn't have onion powder the recipe called for, so I used garlic powder instead.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  Buy the smoked paprika - it's a nice staple to have.  If it's pouring rain or the dead of winter and you want that smoky grill flavor, sprinkle some on the burgers you are frying in a pan.  Put some on some corn you just roasted on the BBQ, throw it in chili.  Same with the Chipotle chili powder.  You can find that in the spice aisle of your local supermarket, and I happen to *love* chipotle.  It's nothing more than a smoked jalapeno, but you get a sweet, smoky hotness that is smoother than the original.  Buy it.  You won't be disappointed.  You can use any chili powder you have if you don't have some from New Mexico.  I was lucky enough to have gone to Santa Fe in October and I brought back some mild green chili powder (which is probably normal here - in Santa Fe if you order anything that's "mild" - it has a kick - they KNOW hot peppers) Here is the link to El Potrero Trading Post.(aka Vigil Store)  You can get a half POUND of chili powder for only $4.50.  Email them for prices for shipping - they will ship in flat rate boxes.  Be warned though - the "mild" chipotle chili powder is HOT so I am sure the hot is nuclear.  I tried a bit on my pinky finger and I swear a few beads of sweat broke between my brows and my mouth burned for about five minutes.  That's just the way they roll in New Mexico :).
(This wonderful photo is from Kit's flikr page )
So...give these roasted sweet potatoes a try.  If you don't have all the ingredients don't be afraid to use what's in your spice cabinet.  Store the leftover "rub" in a baggie - it keeps well.  I made up double the recipe just so I could have enough to last me for a while.  Adjust the spices to the heat you want - if you want more heat, use a hotter chili pepper...more smokiness, up the chipotle (heat and smoke) or the smoked paprika.  I don't know what spices Meg has in her cabinet, but I can tell you, there isn't much LOL, yet these potatoes still came out yummy and savory.


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