Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet 'Taters!

I've never been exactly fond of sweet potatoes (or sweet 'taters as many say here). I gagged down the "candied yams" in childhood to the point of complete avoidance (my husband says they aren't the same thing, and I think he's right: it's the difference between canned peas and fresh).

In October I took a shot of one of our boys holding a 6.5 pound sweet potato that a Mennonite friend had grown. It was mammoth and complete with bulging veins, just like a muscle. Well, of course I had to cook it up for Thanksgiving. Problem was that we had so much food I didn't really have room or time for it. So I baked the potato, cooled it and scooped out the flesh and put it aside for another day (which was tonight, for supper, along side, are you ready? MORE TURKEY LEFTOVERS!).

As I'm a big recipe clipper–and magazine reader (but, as I tell my husband, they're for "research" for possible publication outlets–and that is true and it does occasionally pay off, or at least helps pay for my magazine and book budget)–I came across a recipe in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living for Sweet Potato and Sage-Butter Casserole that I thought I might try. More savory than sweet, with no added sugar enhancement, it was a big hit, even with me and was redolent of a good whipped butternut squash recipe. I had the cooked sweet potato, some more leftover mashed potatoes, and even some homemade bread crumbs on hand, with butter and seasoning, in the freezer. As I had double the amount of potatoes called for, I made plenty and now have another casserole for the freezer. My version is slightly different (I added shallots and garlic and avoided a few steps by precooking the potatoes) and appears below (in its original quantity form as written by MSL, with my notations in italic):

Sweet Potato and Sage-Butter Casserole
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (I baked and mashed them)
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (I used leftover mashed potatoes which likely imparted more creaminess)
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 1 ounce (2 tablespoons), melted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (you can find most fresh herbs now in the produce dept. of most larger grocery stores)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed (I used part half half-and-half and part whole milk)
  • coarse salt (I use Kosher) and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from 3 slices white bread, crusts removed)
  1. Place sweet potatoes and potatoes in large saucepan; cover with water, and season with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 9 minutes. Drain; pass through a ricer into a bowl [NOTE: I HATE ricers! So I used a good old-fashioned potato masher and then finished it off later with an electric mixer. The masher makes it a bit more textured and rustic.]
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 1 stick butter in small saucepan (or skillet, as I prefer, especially as I added 1 large minced SHALLOT and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh GARLIC to the butter/sage mixture while it was melting) over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat; add 2 tablespoons sage. Stir butter mixture and milk into potatoes. Season with salt and pepper (at this point I whipped the mixture further with an electric mixer as I had not riced it first). Transfer into a 2-quart casserole dish. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
  3. Combine bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter and remaining 1/2 tablespoon sage. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  4. Top potato mixture with bread crumbs. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling around edges and breadcrumbs are golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. (If browning too quickly, tent with foil.) Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
[I did not tent the casserole but the recipe advises that if you use cold, precooked potatoes you might have to add about 10-15 minutes to the cooking time.]

Enjoy! I hope to blog a bit about Thanksgiving. It was a blessed occasion. If not this year, there is always next year. I hope your day was special.


Tipper said...

I love sweet taters-the recipe sounds yummy!

Mrs. P. said...

YUM...this looks quite good. I'll have to give a try soon. We love sweet taters :)


Sage Trifle said...

What a beautiful boy! I love sweet potatoes but I love those dimples even more.