Sweet Potato Recipes
The argument started innocently enough. We tend to end up in the kitchen when any two of us are together and at this family reunion, it was hard to know who was responsible for cooking what dishes. As one of my brothers was rummaging through the pantry, he yelled out who had the yams.
My Uncle Tony, from Louisiana, was enjoying a cup of coffee at the end of the kitchen island and took exception to the orange tubers my other brother tossed over him. “Those are not yams,” he said, his charming southern accent at odds with how emphatically he made the diagnosis.
Yams are native to Africa and Asia, with the majority of the crop coming from Africa. They are related to lilies, and can be as small as a regular potato or grow five feet long. Yams have a cylindrical shape with blackish or brown, bark-like skin and white, purple or reddish flesh. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier.
Part of the confusion comes from how USDA classifies sweet potatoes – “firm” and “soft.” The firm variety was the first to be produced in the U.S., so when "soft" sweet potatoes began to be produced commercially, there was a need to differentiate it. Since the "soft" sweet potatoes slightly resembled true yams, they picked up the name and became what you see labeled as "yams" in most U.S. grocery stores. Those are the sweet potatoes most used in sweet potato casseroles.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
I love to have those soft sweet potatoes around for snacks and to add to salads, nothing more, just a well-baked sweet potato. Pick the same sized- tubers so they all finish baking around the same time.
After washing and towel drying, cut an x in the center before placing in a 350F oven for about half an hour or until done.
Baked sweet potatoes are a traditional American fall recipe. However, I have a new favorite way to eat sweet potatoes-baked sweet potato fries.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
You will need: Extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Parchment paper. Don’t forget the sweet potatoes!
To make: Select relatively straight-growing sweet potatoes for easy cutting. Remove peel. Cut into slices, then cut again into ¼ inch wide strips.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with three shakes each of seasonings and paprika. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
If you want to make larger portions, for 5 sweet potatoes use 1 tablespoon of a combination of 1 cup salt, ¼ cup black pepper, ¼ cup garlic powder and ½ teaspoon paprika.
As far as what my two engineer brothers made with those sweet potatoes they thought were yams, let’s just say it’s best that some recipes are not preserved for posterity.