Posts Tagged sweet potato

Sautéed Sweet Potatoes with Whiskey, Brown Sugar, Cayenne and Rosemary

I absolutely hated sweet potatoes when I was a kid. Or, at least I thought I did. Really, I think I was misinformed about sweet potatoes. My only real experience with sweet potatoes was with the famed Thanksgiving side, “Sweet Potato Casserole”. You know the dish I’m talking about, right? The bright orange casserole, which was usually made with canned sweet potatoes and was topped with some sort of marshmallowy substance. The whole thing was devoid of texture and sickeningly sweet. (I apologize if I’m stepping on any toes here, I do know that there are many out there who love this classic Thanksgiving dish. I’m just not one of them!)

This is what I knew of sweet potatoes, and I did not like it one bit.

But then I grew up and figured out that sweet potatoes are awesome. They’re a surprisingly versatile little root vegetable, and can be used in various sweet or savory applications. In addition, they’re classified as a “superfood“. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’d like to pretend it means that sweet potato fries aren’t bad for you. Fried superfood is still a superfood, right?

But, I digress.

The point is, sweet potatoes are fantastic. I could eat them a million different ways; in pies, biscuits, soups, stews, gratins, and more. But of all the ways to enjoy sweet potatoes, there is one recipe that is my clear favorite. I like to sauté them with butter, whiskey, rosemary, shallots, brown sugar, and cayenne. Just take a moment and let your eyes wander back over that sentence. Yep. There are a lot of good things in that sentence. And when you combine all of those good things with sweet potatoes, it’s downright magical.

Bulleit Rye | Rosemarried

The potatoes are buttery, salty, sweet, and a little bit spicy. The whiskey and the brown sugar work together to give the sweet potatoes beautiful brown, caramelized edges. (I’m making myself hungry as I type this. Seriously.)

And the best part about these potatoes? They’re really, really easy to make. And, you can do a lot of the prep work ahead of time. If you boil your sweet potatoes a day ahead of time, they only take 10 more minutes to cook. TEN MINUTES. I used to over-complicate the holidays and make ridiculous dishes that required me to slave over the stove all day. I’ve since learned my lesson, and I try to relax and actually enjoy the holidays. That’s one of the reasons I love this recipe, it allows me to do just that.

All of that to say, these sweet potatoes will be making an appearance on my Thanksgiving table this year. And who knows, maybe they’ll end up on your table as well. :)

(P.S. In the spirit of “Thankful November” I would like to mention that today, I’m thankful for the company of a good book and a snuggly cat. Oh, and I’m thankful to have a working heater. It is COLD out there!)

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Sautéed Sweet Potatoes with Whiskey, Brown Sugar, Cayenne and Rosemary
Serves 4-6

4-5 medium (red flesh) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 small shallots, diced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped finely
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons whiskey
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt & pepper, to taste

This step can be done ahead of time: Place sweet potato cubes in a medium size pot and cover with water. Add a dash of salt, and place over high heat. Allow the water to come to a boil, and then reduce heat and allow the potatoes to simmer until soft (20 minutes or so). Drain water, set potatoes aside. If you do make the potatoes ahead of time, store them in the fridge in a sealed container until you need them.

In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add in sweet potatoes, and gently stir to coat with butter. Allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes. Sprinkle cayenne, brown sugar, rosemary, salt and pepper over the potatoes while they cook. Be careful not to over-stir, so that they potatoes retain their shape (and don’t get mushy. You want them to remain in cubed form!). Turn the heat up to high, and deglaze the pan with half of the whiskey. Allow the sweet potatoes to caramelize. Once slightly browned on one side, turn the potatoes over (or give a quick stir) and sprinkle with more brown sugar. Add in the rest of the whiskey, and cook until potatoes have caramelized and have light to medium browning. If the potatoes begin to stick at any point, add in more butter.

Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed. I like them to pack a punch, so I use more cayenne than indicated. Sprinkle a bit more fresh rosemary over the top of the potatoes and serve immediately. If you really want the potatoes to pack a bit of a punch, drizzle just a touch more whiskey over the top of the potatoes before serving.

sweet potato biscuits.

In honor of Valentines day and all things “sweet” I feel it would be appropriate to share my recipe for Sweet Potato biscuits. This is one of my new favorite recipes – its easy, quick, delicious, and a nice twist on classic biscuits. Have I mentioned that biscuits are one of my favorite foods of all time? My grandpa used to make the best buttermilk biscuits growing up, and ever since then I’ve been hooked. There is nothing to dislike about buttery, flakey, carby biscuit goodness (I think I just made up a word and I like it: Carby). So if you take normal biscuits and add in the texture, color, and sweetness of sweet potatoes…I’m sold.

I wish I could tell you that I was whipping up some fabulous dinner for Nich in honor of valentines day, but alas we are going to pay someone to do that for us. I love cooking, but sometimes its nice to celebrate without having to clean up afterwards. :) We are staying at the Ace Hotel in downtown Portland tonight, and will be dining at Clyde Commons. I am so excited.

Anyway, if you are so prompted, you could make some sweet potato biscuits for your sweetheart. Or you could be like Liz Lemon and celebrate Anna Howard Shaw Day and make a batch and eat them all by yourself. Happy Valentimes, everyone. Lets eat some biscuits.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces (plus a little more for brushing on top of the biscuits)
3/4 cup Sweet-Potato Puree, chilled (To make the puree: Boil the sweet potatoes in water until tender. Blend, food process or mash until they are a puree. Season with nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon.)
1/3 cup buttermilk

Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers – cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized lumps of butter remaining. In a small bowl, whisk together sweet potato purée and buttermilk; stir quickly into flour mixture until combined (do not overmix).

Shape the biscuits: Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy. (If dough is too sticky, work in up to 1/4 cup additional flour.) Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter (or a juice glass! This is what I use), cut out biscuits as close together as possible. Gather together scraps, and repeat to cut out more biscuits (do not reuse scraps more than twice).

Bake the biscuits: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. with rack on lower shelf. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan (to help them stay upright). Brush with melted butter. Bake until golden, 20 to 24 minutes.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro and Bacon.

So, the same night that Nich set about making butter, I decided to make another one of Thomas Keller’s recipes: Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Cilantro. Just take a moment and soak in those words. Lentils. Sweet Potatoes. Bacon. Cilantro. So much goodness in one pot of soup! Of course, I had to make it.

We had invited our friends Beyth and Joe over for dinner, and I warned them ahead of time that they were going to be my guinea pigs for the evening. I felt the need to warn them, as I always get nervous making a brand new recipe for friends. Even though it sounds terribly delicious, what if it turns out awful? (Like this summer, when I decided to make tempura for a few friends. Lets just say, I burned the oil and smoked out our tiny apartment and we had to sit and drink wine on the front porch for a half hour until the smoke cleared. Awesome.)

Thankfully, the soup wasn’t awful. It wasn’t awful at all. In fact, this might be one of the best soups I’ve ever made. It was that good. It had all the right elements – it was hearty, savory, with a touch of sweetness. The bacon adds just the right amount of fatty and salty goodness, and the cilantro adds a delightful freshness. I couldn’t get over it. The soup is great.

I had seen a couple variations of the recipe online and was going back and forth as to which variation I wanted to follow. One recipe (which I think is closer to the original Keller recipe) called for boiling the lentils in one pot, and the sweet potatoes in another pot, and then adding them later to the pot of onions, carrots, and broth (i.e. cooking things separately so you don’t get a pot of mushy soup). The other recipe threw everything into the same pot and let it all cook together until everything was cooked thoroughly.

In the end, I decided to try a combination of both recipes. I cooked the sweet potatoes separately (boiled them in a pot of water with a bay leaf, sprig of time, and some black peppercorns until they were soft) and set them aside until later. I know that lentils take a lot longer than sweet potatoes to cook, and so I didn’t want them breaking down too much. I added the lentils to the carrot, onion, and stock pot and let that simmer for 40 minutes or so. Then, right before I was ready to serve the soup – I added in the sweet potatoes, and took a potato masher to the whole pot and let it simmer for just a couple minutes (so that the soup was nice and thick and the flavors melded together). The recipe I’m posting here is the ‘throw it all in one pot’ variation, as I’m guessing that most people would prefter this method (less work, less dishes, etc), but feel free the recipe any way you like.

Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon & Cilantro

Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home and the Bitchin Camero blog.

6 thick slices applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups French Lentils (Lentils de Puy)
 (I actually used Spanish Lentils, which worked just as well)
8 cups chicken stock
1 – 2 tsp. yellow Curry powder
1 bay leaf
2 Sprigs of Thyme
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
 to taste
1 large handful of cilantro leaves

Set a very large pot over medium-low heat and cook the bacon until the fat renders and it begins to crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve the bacon. Add the onions, carrots, and curry powder to the pot and cook in the bacon fat until soft – about 10 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, lentils, chicken stock, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and cook for 30 – 40 minutes, or until the potatoes and lentils are tender. I wanted to thicken my soup up a bit, so I mashed the soup with a potato masher about 15 times. This is optional.

Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Add the sherry vinegar and taste the soup. (*To be honest, I think I was too over-eager to eat the soup and forgot about adding the vinegar. I’m sure it lacked a little bit of that acidic punch that vinegar added, but the soup was still amazing.) Add salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowl and sprinkle with bacon bits and fresh cilantro leaves.