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Monday, December 2, 2013

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes - by any other name

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

The holidays are all over us.  Difficult to believe.  Seems like just yesterday we wore shorts and bright sunshine ruled.  Now scarves ward off the chill.  We stomp our feet to keep warm, and every wanna-be-Santa is duded up in fluffy white and red, shaking a bell, and waiting for the tinkle of coins. Shopping blunts our thoughts.  Putting up the tree is our deepest concern. When?  Where?

Appetites have a way of keeping up with the seasons.  Right now, ribs are not on my hungry mind.  Leaning toward roast this and piping hot that.  Sure, you can do the expected, but that’s always the case, n’est pas? Dried out turkey.  Mystery veggies slathered in mystery, soup-can sauce.

I prefer to explore.  Keep my guests guessing.  Make their taste buds twist and turn as they gulp their way to toxic levels of alcoholic cheer.  

I’m flat out tired of candied sweet potatoes.  Baked, casseroled, dotted with marshmallows, or otherwise subliminally morphed from tuber to dessert.  Sweet Potatoes deserve more respect.  Come on, in North Carolina it’s even the state vegetable.  And all the time, I thought it was barbeque, of the genus grillus hogus.

The question always comes up:  Is a sweet potato a yam?  Yes and no.  Biologically speaking, no.  Food labeling speaking, kinda.  In the U.S., probably because the terms have grown to be synonymous, anything labeled yam must also be labeled sweet potato.  Have a thirst for knowledge?  Pondering more research?  Be my guest.  I wanna talk about cooking.

I rescued this recipe from Bobby Flay, through the internet; but never being content to simply follow a recipe, my wandering mind, like a dog searching for the perfect tree, fabricates my own touches, to try out on unsuspecting, famished friends, often to semi-rave reviews I might add.  Those few friends I have tend to rave a lot anyway.  And sobriety ranks right below celibacy on their what-not-to-do-in-the-nursing-home list.

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

3 large, robust sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
4 cups heavy cream
2 heaping Tablespoons from a can of un-drained chipotle peppers
2 heaping Tablespoons minced onions
4 little triangles of white cheese
Salt to taste

The Sauce:

Put the cream, and chipotles in a blender.  Err on the side of chipotle caution.  Blend well.  Add salt to taste and more chipotle if you dare.

In a sauté pan, add a bit of butter and the minced onions.  Cook until limp.  Add the cheese and a cup of the cream mixture.  Stir.  After the cheese melts, add the remainder of the cream mixture. Stir well and warm.

Puttin’ It All Together:

In a baking container of your choosing, put down a layer of sweet potato rounds, then spoon on some sauce.  Add another layer of sweet potato and another layer of sauce, etc., until the baking container is full.  Pour extra sauce over the top.  Cover and bake for an hour to an hour and a half at 375ºF (190ºC).  Check from time to time.  You want the potatoes to be soft, but not falling apart.  Time will vary depending on your oven and how thick you cut the potatoes.


Spreading the sauce
Sweet Potatoes after being covered and baked for 80 minutes.

Uncover the potatoes, increase the heat to 400ºF (200ºC) and cook another 30-40 minutes or until the sauce bubbles and just begins to turn golden.

Voilá!  Easy.  Don’t be surprised if you guests overdose.  You may want to pass out extra napkins.  You know how drunks are.  Just getting them to use forks is a dangerous experiment.

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