Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

 As my German friend told me, “Your classic sweet potato casserole or pie with the billowing marshmallows hovering on top is hard not to love”.   Being a traditional American dish, it’s seldom swapped out and changed up.  For good reason– it’s cheap, sweet, and filling.  Can we say, perfect family potluck dish?  But I find limiting sweet potatoes to this application alone stifles its potential to go beyond that one-dimensional starchy, sweet fluff.  
 When it comes to food, I tend to consider myself a bit of a radical.  You can catch me flipping flavors, creating savory from sweet, or mixing together polarizing tastes.  Although I love twice baked potatoes, loaded with bacon, cheddar cheese and sour cream, it only recently dawned on me to do the same with sweet potatoes.  I kept the texture progression (crunchy, smooth, savory), but switched out the traditional toppings in favor of panko and pecans, goat cheese, green onions and cracked black pepper.
 Before you cry blasphemy, imagine the soft peaks of sweet potato, contrasted with the crackle of toasted panko and pecans alongside a juicy steak or roast chicken.  Each bite like a pillow of creaminess accented by slivers of green onion and cracked black pepper.  The pecans bring back hints of sweetness and the panko adds the crunch needed to snap back into reality.  It feels bright and playful, but seductively satisfying.  It’s definitely a side dish fit for dinner.  Might the loaded (with fat) baked potato be teetering on the edge of extinction?  
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes                    
Adapted from Martha Steward

Servings: 3-4


2 large sweet potatoes
4 oz goat cheese
3 T butter, salted and divided
¼ cup green onion tips, finely sliced (only the green part midway up the stalk)
1/8 tsp black pepper
¼ cup pecans, chopped
¼ cup plain panko

1.       Preheat oven to 375˚F. 
2.       Cut sweet potatoes in half, place on greased cookie sheet or large baking dish.
3.       Bake for 1 hour, or until fork tender.
4.       Take potatoes out of oven.  Once cooled slightly, scoop out sweet potato into medium sized  bowl, leaving the skins intact.  (May need to peel off hard layer of cooked potato on top first)
5.       With electric beaters, whip together the potato, 2 T butter and 4 oz goat cheese until very smooth.
6.       Stir in green onions and black pepper. 
7.       Melt remaining 1 T butter.  In a small dish, combine pecans, panko, and butter. 
8.       Spoon mix back into potato skins and top with panko mixture.  (May end up not being able to refill all potato skins, I started with 4 and ended up with only enough for 3.  Keep it in mind.)
9.       Return potatoes to oven and cook for 10 minutes longer. 
10.   Season with salt and pepper – enjoy the deliciousness!

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