My assignment for this years Thanksgiving is sweet potatoes. It sounds simple enough, but then the questions start coming…should it be sweet potatoes or yams, savory or sweet, chunky or smooth? This year I am determined to offer up more than an orange backdrop for a mound of mini marshmallows, but I need your help.
The first question is what is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? On first take, I'd say that "sweet potato" sounds like the perfect roommate- happy and easy to get along with, pays the rent on time. While "yam", sounds more like the roommate who eats your favorite ice cream and puts the empty container back in the freezer…but I digress. What I discovered is that in the U.S. there are no true yams, every tuber labeled yam is a variety of sweet potato. There are tan sweet potatoes that have a yellow interior and tend to be dry when cooked (often called yams) or the reddish sweet potatoes that are moist with a deep orange flesh. I'm thinking that the moist variety of sweet potatoes will form the base of my recipe this Thanksgiving.
The next question is should it be savory or sweet? I'm convinced that my family will expect sweetness, but it doesn't have to be a syrupy, sticky mess that feels like a dessert. Unlike a baked potato that requires heaps of fat-laden sour cream or butter to add flavor and moisture, a sweet potato has it all. When cooked, it's naturally soft texture and earthy flavor requires very few additions. I like the idea of leaving out some of the high fat and sweet ingredients and letting the natural sugar of the sweet potatoes shine through.
This brings me to the question that I need help with…chunky or smooth? I have two recipes that I am considering - my always wonderful, full of texture Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sour Cherries or a new smooth-textured recipe for Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole from the Live, Eat, Play website at Colorado State University. Which of these recipes would work the best for your family? Leave me a comment - I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sour Cherries
- ½ cup dried sour cherries
- 3 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 pears peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 Granny Smith apples peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place cherries in a small bowl. Pour enough hot water over the cherries to cover. Let stand for 2 minutes; drain.
- Combine the cherries, sweet potatoes, pears, and apples in a large bowl and mix well.
- Combine the honey, olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan and heat until honey becomes liquid.
- Pour honey and oil sauce over the sweet potato mixture, stirring to coat.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture in an even layer on a foil-covered baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender and light brown.