Whip up these sweet potato recipes

Published 2:08 am Saturday, January 28, 2017

I received two of the same cookbooks for Christmas, one from my daughter and one from my husband and this was the cookbook Deep Run Roots from Vivian Howard, the eastern North Carolina chef with the award winning cooking show, “The Chef and the Farmer.” I like her show but never seem to find when it is on, so I have missed a lot of her shows. Her cookbook is thick and has a lots of stories and a lot of recipes and some are involved and some pretty easy. Her chapters are divided into the produce available in eastern North Carolina and one of her favorite vegetables is the sweet potato.

Much of the rural south survived on ground corn and pork products, but the sweet potato seems unusual until you look around and see that more sweet potatoes are grown in Eastern Carolina than anywhere else in the country. Over 50 percent of the nation’s supply come from this region. Sweet potatoes, like tobacco, love the long, hot, humid summer as well as the sandy soil.

As I was driving recently I listened to the food program on Mississippi Public Radio on the sweet potato. Vardaman, Mississippi considers itself the sweet potato capital of the world. Most of their recipes dealt with ‘sweet’ recipes. But I did get a couple ideas to try: raw, used like carrots with a dip or in a salad and use the greens for salads or stir fry’s.

Sweet potatoes are naturally high in vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. They also have zero fat. To absorb everything the root has in store for you, eat it with a little butter or oil. Sweet potatoes have much less starch than white potatoes. There’s no need to worry about throwing roasted sweet potato flesh in the food processor. You can blend it all day and it will not become gluey.

Vivian says you can eat the skin. For some reason it always seemed off limits, but coated with a little oil, seasoned, and roasted, sweet potatoes with the skin left on are a new trend in her kitchen.

Perhaps most of us know how to roast a sweet potato, but I am going to give a quick version for you. There is really nothing better that a hot roasted sweet potato with a pat of butter right out of the oven. It is good for you, so you do not have to feel guilty.

From Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard.

Preheat your oven to 400°F. To make cleanup easier. Line a baking dish with a paper bag or foil. Select sweet potatoes that are similar in size. You want them to be done about the same time, and this will help make this happen.

Place your potatoes on the baking sheet, and make sure they are not touching. Roast them on the middle rack on your oven. Once you start to smell them, probably after about 45 minutes, give the potatoes a look. Look for a little juice that has leached out and caramelized. When the potatoes are done, their skins should have separated slightly from their flesh and they should pierce easily with a knife or fork.

The next recipe is from Vivian’s Grandma Hill. You can assemble this recipe ahead of time and bake the sweet potatoes just before you serve them. I thought this recipe was terrific. The sweet potatoes were not so sweet and would be great for the Thanksgiving dinner or a side for any meat dish. Vivian said that her grandmother’s yams were the first thing to go at family gatherings. (Note technically yams are different; sweet potatoes are what we grow in the United States although you may find them labeled as yams.)


Grandma Hill’s Candied Yams

Serves 6

2 pounds roasted sweet potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes (1 cube per round of potato)

Zest of one orange

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Slip the skins off the roasted sweet potatoes and slice into 1 ½-inch-thick rounds. Lay the rounds flat on the bottom of a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer with about half an inch separating each round.

In a small bowl stir together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Sprinkle each round with equal parts of the sugar mixture and dot the top of each round with cold butter. Gate the orange zest right over the sweet potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes so things caramelize a little.

Vivian likes these at room temperature but she says common sense would make you realize they are probably better hot!