Sweet! Potatoes!

The sweet potatoes we had at Thanksgiving this year (yes, the kind with marshmallows on top) rekindled my interest in tubers. I think I’ve found my new favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes. But first, some sweet potato education, courtesy of The New Food Lover’s Companion, which everyone should own:

    This large edible root belongs to the morning-glory family and is native to tropical areas of the Americas. There are many varieties of sweet potato but the two that are widely grown commercially are a pale sweet potato and the darker-skinned variety Americans erroneously call “yam” (the true YAM is not related to the sweet potato). The pale sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin and a pale yellow flesh. Its flavor is not sweet and after being cooked, the pale sweet potato is dry and crumbly, much like a white baking potato. The darker variety has a thicker, dark orange skin and a vivid orange, sweet flesh that cooks to a much moister texture. Fresh sweet potatoes are available sporadically throughout the year, though not as readily during the summer months. Canned and frozen sweet potatoes are available year-round and are sometimes labeled as yams. When buying fresh sweet potatoes choose those that are small- to medium-sized with smooth, unbruised skins. Sweet potatoes don’t store well unless the environment is just right, which is dry, dark and around 55°F. Under perfect conditions they can be stored for 3 to 4 weeks. Otherwise, store in a cool, dark place and use within a week of purchase. Do not refrigerate. Sweet potatoes — particularly the pale variety — can be substituted for regular potatoes in most recipes. They can be prepared in a variety of ways including baking, boiling and sautéing. Sweet-potato chips can now be found on some restaurant menus. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C.

It goes on to say (under “Y”) that true yams are not widely available in the US and are not frequently grown here. So now you know.

My new ultimate indulgence? Twice-baked sweet potatoes:

For four people, roast 2 sweet potatoes at about 400 degrees until they’re nice and soft (it’ll take an hour or more). Cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the insides, and mash the insides up with anything you can imagine might be deleterious to your health. We added about 1/4 cup each of sour cream (butter would be excellent) and crumbled gorgonzola (but you could use goat cheese, feta, cheddar, or parmesan with equally delicious results, I imagine), salt and pepper, and the majority of two fat, fat pieces of cooked, crumbled bacon from our Skagit River Ranch stash. Then scoop the doctored SP flesh back into the potato skins, sprinkle with any remaining bacon, and bake for about 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven, until the tops begin to brown and bubble. Top with scallions, if you like.

You, uh, might want to schedule some time on the couch afterward.


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