Friday, June 11, 2010

A Potato by any Other Name Would Not be as Sweet

The love of some foods must be hereditary. While my dad likes them my sweet potato fixation clearly comes form my mother's side. I don’t know a single one of my numerous southern aunts, uncles, cousins, 1st. 2nd. 3rd and kissing that would turn away a sweet potato. Any sweet potato: french fried sweet potatoes, sweet potato gratin, sweet potato pie, tempura sweet potato, overcooked sweet potato, just like the man in the movie says.

When my Granny passed away several years ago a handful of people brought flowers but mainly people brought sacks of sweet potatoes. Granny and the sweet potatoes were carried to the gravesite by, at her request, her colorfully adorned family.

While reading Gourmet a few years ago I came across a recipe for sweet potatoes with smoked paprika. And if I didn’t say it out loud I certainly thought to myself ‘Eureka! That’s brilliant!’, or something like that. I use more paprika (and butter and cream) than the original recipe because I’m about as crazy for that stuff as much as the potatoes. I also dust the top with turbinado sugar, get out the kitchen torch and fire it up to create a slightly sweet crunch against the backdrop of the creamy smoky potatoes.

Mashed roasted sweet potatoes with smoked paprika – Serves 4

1 ½-2 lbs. sweet potatoes

6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and place in a 400° oven for approximately 45 minutes until they are soft to the touch like a ripe avocado. Peel, coarsely chop and place in a bowl with the cream, butter, paprika, salt and cayenne. Using a hand mixer blend at medium speed until the potatoes have a creamy consistency and most of the lumps are gone. This should make about 1 cup. This can be done a few hours in advance if needed. Fill (4) 4 ounce ramekins or a larger 7" ramekin with the potato mixture and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to reheat potatoes. When they have been reheated sprinkle the sugar on top of the potatoes and using a kitchen torch heat the sugar so it forms a crunchy, brown crust. If you don’t have a torch you can place the ramekins under the broiler for 20-30 seconds. Be careful removing them from the oven, or alternatively place them on another baking sheet and then put them in the oven.

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