I’m going to be totally honest with you and hope that Texas doesn’t revoke my citizenship, and that I don’t lose my Official Redneck status. I don’t like sweet potatoes. I’ll give you a minute to get over that.
So… I know, right? A died-in-the-wool, seventh-generation Texan not like a Southern Staple like the sweet potato? I don’t know how it happened. It might be that one of my German genes is upset with the idea. Whatever it is, I just can’t seem to enjoy them.
Except this one time in Central Texas. Back when I was in the Hill Country, I attended a huge Thanksgiving celebration at a friend’s house. His wife – Kimberly from Wimberley – made a sweet potato casserole that I sampled before I knew there was sweet potato in there. And it was great! But it also didn’t taste like sweet potato, which is how I was fooled in the first place. All I knew is that is was full-on, 4th level Black Belt Vegan or some such and it was a new recipe, and Kimberly was all aflutter for fear that folks wouldn’t like it. So I tried some and fully intended to tell her it was delicious, even if it wasn’t. But it was really, really good, and it was during seconds that she told me about the “secret ingredient.” I stopped chewing for a second and tried hard to find the dreaded taste of my nemesis, and couldn’t. Shrugging my shoulders, I continued eating, with a “yeah, well, even so, it’s REALLY GOOD!”
Those are both wonderful, pertinent questions, worth of a good answer. I commend you for your focus and attention to detail. Here’s the thing: I’ve done quite a few Winter Feasts over the years. And while I may not care for orange potatoes, I know a LOT of people who do. And I don’t want to disappoint them. So I learned how to make a few different sweet potato recipes a while back. Since I wasn’t a very good taste tester, I had to enlist friends, girlfriends, (ex-)wives and family members. Once I had a recipe that everyone loved, I tasted it so I could recreate it time and again. I can still taste the sweet potato, but even for me, it’s pretty darn good!
And here we are, about to mash up some orange potatoes and turn them into something at which to marvel. Let’s go have some fun!
3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
4 to 5 tablespoons cream or half-and-half
If you’re doing a “normal” style of mashed potatoes, peel your potatoes and cut into chunks. If you prefer to do “rustic,” skin on potatoes, scrub them, then cut them up.
Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and put in the bowl of your stand mixer, or a large bowl.
Mash the potatoes until fairly smooth.
Add salt, butter, and maple syrup. Add cinnamon to taste then continue to mash again.
Add cream or half-and-half a little at a time until you achieve the desired, creamy-yet-firm consistency.
For this recipe, I strongly recommend real butter and pure maple syrup. You will be far more pleased with the results than if you use substitutes.
I suggest you begin with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and adjust from there until you know how much you like to use. Remember: you can always add more, but you can’t take it back out.
An easy upgrade is to roughly chop some pecan halves and sprinkle them over the potatoes. You could also add the pecans to the syrup you drizzle over the top, or put just coat the pecans in syrup.
A neat presentation idea is to warm some extra syrup (with just a touch of butter) and drizzle a bit over the top just before you serve.
If you make them ahead of time, you can warm them in the oven with some foil over the top. If you like, finish them off under the broiler to brown them on top.
There you go: a wonderful and easy recipe to make sure you have delectable mashed potatoes at your feast. Enjoy and, as always,
Play with your food!
I have more Potato Recipes here.
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