Friday, October 12, 2012

A Taste of Fall: Apple Maple Sweet Potatoes (corn, gluten, soy, refined sugar free with dairy free option)

I think I can safely say with all certainty that I am the ONLY person in my family that loves sweet potatoes.  It's been that way ever since I was a little kid.  Even my dad, who loved pretty much all foods I did, thought sweet potatoes were okay, but nothing spectacular (at least that I remember).  And no, I do not mean those evil concoctions that are slathered in marshmallows and butter and baked to a sugar laden mush.  Nope, I always loved true sweet potatoes that are cooked simply, are sweet and just melt on your tongue.  Few things, to me, are better to eat, especially in the fall.

I have worked for a great many years to perfect sweet potatoes so that I wouldn't be the only one who would eat them in my immediate family.  My husband never cared for them and my daughter, who used to try and LIVE on sweet potatoes when she was first starting on solids, one day tasted just regular mashed potatoes and never went back (it was a sad, sad day for me).  So, anytime I'd run into a trick or tip I'd try it and see if it made the sweet potatoes taste just awesome enough that my family would eat them.  Especially since I got tired of throwing away sweet potatoes when I couldn't eat them all.

And one day, while talking to one of my friends who grew up in the South I finally got the advice I needed to make great sweet potatoes.  And you'll never guess what the secret ingredient is that makes truly smooth and wonderful sweet potatoes.  Banana.  Weird, I know, but trust me give it a shot and you won't be sorry.

I decided to tweak my usual recipe for sweet potatoes to integrate in some of the flavors that I consider integral to fall.  Apple cider and maple syrup. 

And yes, to the reader who asked, I DO consider maple a big flavor when it comes to fall.  Why?

Well because growing up in the fall and winter months is when we'd always eat oatmeal and cornmeal mush for breakfast and the one thing that was always present on those items was maple syrup.  Fall, for me, was the start of maple syrup season, as I like to call it, and so when I think fall one of the flavors that always stands out is maple syrup.

In this recipe I used home made mulled apple cider.  I realize that mulled apple cider isn't exactly EASY to come by off the shelf (so to speak) so if you want you could use just regular apple cider (go for real apple cider if you can find it and watch your labels if buying shelf stable to make sure it's not from concentrate) and then add a TINY pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves to the potatoes.  The color will take on a more brown color, but the taste will still be good.
And hey, another useless...err...useful fact for you today.  Did you know that sweet potatoes aren't even RELATED to regular potatoes.  Weird huh?  Anyway *shakes head* onto the recipe!

Apple Maple Sweet Potatoes (corn, gluten, soy, refined sugar free, other things free with a dairy free option)
  • 2 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 Ripe Banana, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 to 4 tbs butter (depending on taste) cut into small chunks (if using coconut oil, use 2 TBS in it's solid state)
  • 1 TBS mulled apple cider or 1 TBS regular apple cider + pinch cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • 1 to 2 TBS maple syrup (I use grade A dark amber), depending on taste
  • Salt

1.  Place diced sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, add a couple of good pinches of salt to the water and then reduce to medium high until sweet potatoes are tender (take some tongs and pinch a piece of sweet potato.  If it yields to gentle pressure it's probably done, but nothing beats a taste test.  Just be careful not to burn your tongue :).  Drain well and place back in hot saucepan, but don't put any heat under the pan.

2.  Place your butter/coconut oil in the pan and mix with a wooden spoon until the oil is melted. 
3.  Add the chunks of banana, the apple cider and the maple syrup (depending how sweet you like your sweet potatoes you might have to adjust the maple syrup a bit) and then mash with a potato masher until a nice smooth (and truly yummy) texture is reached and everything is incorporated well.  Serve warm/hot.

Trust me, once you add the banana to sweet potatoes you'll never go back.  It just takes sweet potatoes up about four notches.  Even my husband, my "sweet potatoes are gross" husband eats them this way and says how good they are.

These potatoes go great with pretty much anything, but go particularly well with pork chops, probably because a little bit of cinnamon makes pork just taste better and the flavors in the mulling spices just make the pork pop a bit.  The leftover potatoes are good too (I actually will eat just them for lunch...yes I know I'm odd), but be prepared that sometimes the potatoes take on a slightly brown look from the banana in the potatoes. 

Use within a few days.  Serves 4.


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