Sweet Potato on the Table – Part 1 – Smoky Mashed Sweet Potato

November 11th, 2009 / Comments 1

A plant on the windowsill in my second grade classroom was my introduction to the sweet potato. I was seven and on the lookout for interesting experiments.

Sweet potato vine c egbert Sweet Potato on the Table   Part 1   Smoky Mashed Sweet Potato
I had already perfected growing salt crystals on a chunk of coal and was confident that a leafy, green sweet potato plant would be more warmly received by my family than the garish blue and orange, ammonia scented salt crystals had been.

Sprouting the sweet potato was easy. I used three toothpicks to suspend a sweet potato, pointed end down, in an empty pickle jar and added enough water to cover about a third of the sweet potato. Then I put the jar in a dark closet. Roots appeared in less than a week and I brought the sweet potato out to meet my family. The jar sat on the kitchen table and it wasn’t long until it sprouted and the table was graced with heart shaped leaves on tangled green vines. In the dark days of winter, the sweet potato vine was a reminder of the promise of spring.

The sweet potato is a tropical plant that has been grown in South America for more than five thousand years. It is used in Japanese tempura, the edible leaves and vines are steamed and served with soy sauce and garlic in Taiwan, and sweet potato starch is used to produce Korean cellophane noodles.

Ranked number one in nutrition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, fried or steamed, and seasoned in a variety of ways. I put sweet potatoes on the table, in a serving bowl rather than sprouting in a jar, at least once a week and hope you will be inspired to do the same without falling into that nutritional black hole of marshmallow and brown sugar.

ro flw 01 Sweet Potato on the Table   Part 1   Smoky Mashed Sweet Potato

Smoky sweet potatoes offer a welcome contrast to traditional Thanksgiving fare. Here’s how I did it:

Smoky Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I cooked four large unpeeled sweet potatoes until they were soft. This takes about five minutes per potato in a microwave, about twenty minutes in all.

I add two deseeded and minced, canned chipotle peppers and two tablespoons of adobe sauce to the peeled and mashed sweet potatoes.  If the potatoes seem dry I add a bit of butter or cream.  Serve these potatoes with the warning that this is a spicy dish.

Eight ounce cans of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce are available in most grocery stores. If you are uncertain about the level of heat from the chipotle peppers, begin with a reduced amount and adjust to suit your palette. I put the remainder of chilies in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer.

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