Today's rendition focuses on the humble sweet potato. Yes, some people call it "yams;" the verdict is out on whether the terms are synonymous -- or different. (The Brick, Mr. Southern Gentleman From 'Noth Kay-o-lahna,' says no, absolutely not -- but I've heard people disagree with him.)
Whatever you want to call it, this tuber is not only delicious -- but one of the more nutritious carbs.
Want to make a burger, pork chop or chicken breast special?
Add a pile of crunchy, garlicky sweet potato fries alongside.
SWEET POTATO FRIES
1 sweet potato per person
dried garlic and salt
(or garlic salt -- I use a steak rub that includes garlic, salt and fresh-ground pepper)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes thinly lengthwise -- the thinner the slice, the more crisp the finished product will be. Generously grease a cooking sheet with olive oil; add the potato slices and turn over to evenly distribute oil. Salt evenly.
Bake for approx. 30 min., until fries are lightly browned and crispy. (They may take less time -- or more, depending on your oven. Cook the meat alongside in a separate pan.) Serve right away with barbecue sauce or ketchup.
For New Year's Day this year, instead of Hoppin' John, I tried something new, adapted from a recipe in Dale Talde's wonderful Asian-American. This guy has a restaurant in New York City -- and an irreverent pleasure in mixing all sorts of different cuisines together. The results are something wonderful.
He takes cubes of sweet potato and drizzles them with an unusual sauce, then skewers and grills them. I did it slightly different, as a stir-fry.
Trust me -- don't worry about the ingredient mix. Just make it. This is absolutely delicious.
DALE'S NEW YEAR YAM FRY
3 large sweet potatoes (fine, yams) -- between 2 1/2 - 3 lbs
4 slices bacon
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sliced leeks (Dale uses shallots - a mild onion would be okay, too)
1/4 cup sherry or rice vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup soy sauce
Boil sweet potatoes. (This will take about 30-45 min.) Cool slightly, then peel and cut into chunks. (Save the peels for your chickens...)
Fry the bacon; take the slices out and drain them, but leave the grease in the pan. Add the butter, leeks and sweet potato chunks, and saute. (About 10 min.) Add sauce ingredients and stir gently until sauce thickens.
Pile the sweet potato mixture in a deep bowl; make sure to drizzle extra sauce over. Serve with the crumbled bacon on top. Note: this would serve 3-4 as a main dish, but is pretty concentrated. It could easily be stretched to serve 6-7 as a side dish.
Try either of these with a bowl of soup and a crisp green salad for a filling, healthy meal.
Next time: Kids Favorites