Saturday, November 24, 2012

New American Cooking, Smokey Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Horseradish and Sour Cream

OK. So Thanksgiving is over. But the holidays are just beginning and if you are like me you are getting ready to find a way to perk up those dinners you might be having for friends and or your family which celebrate the season.

There are all the usual suspects to be found on my Thanksgiving dinner table. The turkey, dressing (aka Stuffing), you know all the regulars, but I have an aversion to one of the mainstays of the holiday table. The sweet potato! Well, that is till this year. You may well ask why do I not enjoy the potato of sweet with it's brilliant orange color and deep sweet flavor. Eh...who knows but I guess it has to do with liking regular potatoes so much I can't imagine sweet potatoes taking their place. But as I said this year was different.

Now the sweet potato is probably one of the earliest indigenous foods that the Pilgrims took over from the Indians when they landed in the New World. Sweet potatoes were a mainstay in the Indian diet all over South, Central and North America but it would have been one of the crops that the settlers saw and tasted along with corn that they saw themselves also planting. So needless to say in the early part of the culinary history of our country the sweet potato was pretty common. Sweet potatoes are not Yams and should not be confused with them. Yams were brought to this country by Christopher Columbus to his credit, and are from Africa. It was not until the rise of the white potato that Americans crossed over into eating the sweet potato as an afterthought. Mostly popular in the American South sweet potatoes graced the tables of my family my whole life. And I never really liked them. "Healthy", "Good for You", were all phrases attached to this vegetable's name. ( tell a kid that and it's never a good thing) And for me the worse part was... they were sweet. And while I like a little dessert now and then, I have already discussed how I would rather eat a bag of doritos over a gallon of ice cream, so I definitely did not enjoy the sweet flavor aspect at all.

As an adult I have come to appreciate the sweet potato for it's place in the culinary pantheon, but I still would rather eat creamy salty buttery white mashed potatoes any day! Also while I do enjoy a traditional preparation of the sweet potato as a casserole, it is cloyingly sweet and seems to almost be a dessert. However, this Thanksgiving it was requested that I make sweet mashed potatoes. So I did. However, I decided to try them the way I have prepared white mashed potatoes before, that is with savory ingredients. And I have to say... I not only liked them, I loved them! I used sour cream as the dairy element and I used Horseradish as the flavor choice. I also used a touch of my favorite secret ingredient liquid smoke as a background flavor and a touch of honey to compliment the sweet in the sweet potatoes. They came out really well and were a huge hit during the meal. In fact two people took them home with them. So here's the recipe. maybe you can mix it up a bit this season and find a little savory in your sweet.

Smokey Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Horseradish and Sour Cream

3 pounds of sweet potatoes washed peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 jar prepared horseradish (more or less depending on the potency and your taste)
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
4 drops to start with of liquid smoke add more after you taste the potatoes, it should be a background flavor so keep that in mind or it will end up tasting like charcoal!

Boil the sweet potatoes in highly salted water till they pierce easily with a fork about 25 mins.
Drain well and rinse again with warm water to drain off some of the excess starch
Mash roughly
Add sour cream
Mash into the potatoes
Stir in the Horseradish and the honey and season well to taste, you might want to add more salt and pepper. Add in the liquid smoke and taste, add more to your liking if necessary! Enjoy!

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