Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Potato Potato

1.  Mashed potatoes, hash browns, and potatoes au gratin are not exactly "light" fare.

2.  During the late 90's, many sweet potato farmers were on the verge of growing something else.  After all, the only time anyone ever ate sweet potatoes was on Thanksgiving when they had all the flavor boiled out of them and then were coated in a heavy layer of butter and sugar.

3.  People realized that sweet potatoes are amazing.  They taste great and they are incredibly good for you.

When I was growing up, a fairly common breakfast was sweet potatoes that had been slow baked over night.  The sugar had caramelized, the potatoes were soft.  They made an amazing breakfast!

I have done many many things with sweet potatoes over the years.  They are great cubed and par-cooked in salad.  They rock the house as a side lightly mashed with cranberries, caramelized onions and toasted pecans.  They are incredible grilled on the stove top or out on the barbecue.  At the same time, sometimes they are a bit too intensely flavored for my taste buds that day.  A couple of years ago, I was inspired: what would happen if I mixed sweet potatoes with good old fashioned russets?

Magic.  Magic happened.

Sweet potato and potato mash.  Sweet potato and potato twice baked.  Sweet potato and potato hash browns.  Sweet potato and potato au gratin.  IN-CRED-I-BLE.

So let me tell you about these dishes.  They are lower fat.  Why?  Well, so often, to make potatoes moist and delicious, what do we add?  Cream, butter, oil, milk, cheese.  These are all ingredients that I love, but they don't always love my waistline.  But when I use sweet potatoes along with regular potatoes, there is a higher level of natural moisture present.  In addition, the sweetness of the potato is heightened by the sweet potato.  The addition of the sweet potato also adds a beautiful orange color and a complexity of flavor.

Before you go off and try these, let me make a few suggestions: first, if you are going to cook them for mashed potatoes, steam them above the boiling russets.  Second, if you usually use a lot of cheese in a recipe, back WAAAAY off if you are going to add sweet potato; sauteed onion is a great addition instead.  Lastly, don't parboil your sweet potatoes, even if you are going to do so to your white potatoes; they cook faster and they don't need it.

Lastly, here is a recipe to get you started:

Twice Baked Sweet Potato-Potato

-Bake 4 Russets and 2 Sweet Potatoes
-Gently remove the potato from the skins, leaving shells from the russets behind.
-Rice the potatoes into a bowl (you can just mash them if you don't have a ricer)
-Stir in 1/4 stick melted butter, 1/2 block cream cheese, and 1/2 cup sour cream
-Re-fill the russet shells with the mixture and lightly sprinkle with cheese of your choice.
-Bake at 350-400 for about 10 minutes or until top has melted or lightly browned

Enjoy experimenting!

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