Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sweet Potatoes



Up until I moved away for college, I'd never tasted a sweet potato. Not even in the candy-sweet holiday casseroles - my family just didn't make them. I think my first experiences with sweet potatoes were with Boston Market's sweet potato casserole - lots of brown sugar, marshmallows, and calories! When you think of sweet potatoes, usually this is the dish that comes to mind. However, once I learned how to eat more healthily, I realized that there's a lot more to sweet potatoes than the super sweet marshmallow confection dish.

Now, I love sweet potatoes in savory dishes - I think it's a pity that most people only ever see them used in sweet dishes. In fact, the recipe that I'm going to highlight in this post surprises many people because they're expecting a sweet dish, only to come to face with creamy, smokey chipotle. Chipotle peppers and Southwestern spices in general are my favorite way of dressing up sweet potatoes; spicy Southwestern flavors pair naturally with the inherent sweetness of the potatoes.

As mentioned before, one of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes is as a mash around the holidays. This recipe was developed from mashed white potatoes, with spices adjusted to highlight the flavors of the sweet potatoes. The chipotle powder can be adjusted - if I'm cooking for Mike and myself, I use more; when I'm serving this to others I stick to the amount listed below. You can also substitute vegan versions of the dairy products (Earth Balance and soymilk). Please do use real maple syrup - pancake syrup is no substitute!

Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2 lbs sweet potatoes
1/2 stick unsalted butter (or 1/4 cup Earth Balance)
1/4 cup half and half (or 1/4 cup soymilk or creamer)
1/2 tsp chipotle powder (or 1 minced canned chipotle pepper)
1 minced garlic clove
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel, cube, and boil sweet potatoes until soft. Drain and mash with butter. Stir in remaining ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.

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