This recipe is brought to you thanks to the kindness of Sasquatch Books. They sent me a review copy of The Cast Iron Skillet. It sits in my upstate house, buried in snow. Suzen and I haven’t tried to get upstate in three week. We have plenty of snow, and ice, right here in Manhattan.
But I wanted to test recipes, and Sasquatch emailed me a PDF of the book. Suzen was able to scroll through all the sumptuous recipes. As I expected, she stopped when she got to this one, Sweet Potato Soufflé.
I don’t know if you have a problem with sweet potatoes, but I do. It all began when I was a child and my mother, at Thanksgiving, presented a tub of sweet potatoes crowned with marshmallows. I still talk to my therapist about the trauma. Can you get PTSD from one serving of goop? I think I did.
After decades of avoiding them, I now love sweet potatoes. A month ago, we did some experiments and I got a new favorite recipe: sweet potatoes blended in a hot mixture of chiles. It’s wonderful and I will blog it soon. But, but, this soufflé recipe is easily my favorite sweet potato concoction. And I doubt it can ever be surpassed.
“No eggs. How can it be a soufflé?” Suzen asked. She was reading the recipe. I was standing over her shoulder.
“Maybe the half-and-half,” I suggested. “Or the apple cider. Or the butter. Or the sugar. Maybe we should add more sugar.”
I got a dirty look. “Remember, we ate at the restaurant where one of these authors was the chef? Remember how good it was? How Paris-quality it was? We are not messing with anything.”
With perfect diligence, Suzen measured and I obeyed. This recipe is perfectly balanced in its flavors. And the techniques, hand mashing and then beating with an electric mixer, yield a monster result. The sweet potato flavor here is sheltered in layers of apple, orange, and cinnamon. There is dairy richness: butter and half-and-half. All these flavors, all the techniques, and the result is sublime.
This recipe will be appreciated at any time of the year.
I will suggest it for you next holiday [Thanksgiving]. It will make the meal. And, as a side benefit of this side dish, it could spare you years of therapy.
Sweet Potato Soufflé
Yield: 6-8 servings [perfect for a holiday meal]
- 8 medium sweet potatoes or yams (about 4 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup half-and-half
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 3 tablespoons chilled salted butter, cut into small pieces
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
Put the sweet potatoes in a large stockpot, cover with cold water, and add the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes until soft when pierced, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
Peel the sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Mash to a coarse consistency with a potato ricer or masher. Add the room-temperature butter, half-and-half, apple cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a buttered 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet. Dot the potatoes with the chilled butter pieces and bake in the oven until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. For a perfect golden crust on top, broil for the last 5 minutes.
Source: The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis, Julie Kramis Hearne and Charity Burggraff
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM lens, F/3.5, 1/30th second, ISO-200
“You realize the blog has become unbalanced,” Suzen said.
“No.” I answered. I once had a girlfriend who told me to “admit nothing.” I still ended up divorced.
“It’s booze and chocolate and brownies and milk chocolate, Brian,” she rebutted. “There are these things called vegetables. Science, and you are a scientist, has proven they are necessary for life.”
“Can you make them taste good?” I asked.
“Yes. Yes, I can.”
And by God did she ever. That picture shows, out of focus, roasted Brussels sprouts, which I have grown to love for their nutty taste. I am instinctively a baked potato with butter-and-sour- cream-and-chives kind of guy. I’ve not been fond of sweet potatoes. Until now. These twice-baked sweet potatoes are magnificently delicious. I devoured my slice and did not seek out butter or sour cream or even maple syrup.
I suppose this accomplishment might be due, in small part, to the bacon brittle that adorns the sweet potato. Suzen makes our bacon in the oven with a dusting of brown sugar, because even she has to admit that caramelized sugar is impossible not to enjoy.
Here, the bacon and sugar are combined into a solid mass on the baking tray that is then broken apart. The resulting shards are gleaming wonders. You debate whether to just look or taste. Then you taste and taste and all that is left is a visual memory that is matched with a rich sense of satisfaction on your mouth.
I suppose that I could just eat the bacon brittle and not bother with the sweet potato part. No, on second thought, I appear to have achieved a compromise position with my wife that should not be jeopardized.
She’s hidden the left over bacon brittle. I’m going out to buy more sweet potatoes. Maybe, maybe.
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon Brittle
Yield: 8 servings
- 4 slices of bacon, cut into ½-inch wide pieces
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 6 medium sweet potatoes (6-8 ounces each)
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons white miso (fermented soybean paste)
- 1 ⅔ piece ginger, peeled, finely grated (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 pieces scallion 1 inch piece (dark-green parts only), thinly sliced lengthwise
For the Brittle:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp.
Transfer bacon to a sieve set over a small bowl; reserve dripping’s. Return bacon, 1 Tbsp. drippings, sugar, and sesame seeds to same skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar turns the color of milk chocolate, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread out evenly; let cool. Break brittle into shards.
For the Sweet Potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, 45-55 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Working over a large bowl, scoop out flesh from 8 halves, leaving a ½‑inch thick layer inside skins. Place potato halves on same foil-lined baking sheet. Scoop flesh from remaining 4 halves; discard skins. Mash flesh with a whisk; add eggs, butter, white miso, and ginger and stir until mixture is smooth.
Spoon or pipe filling into reserved skins.
Bake potatoes until the tops are lightly puffed and golden brown, 30-35 minutes (potatoes will take longer if they’ve been chilled). Top potatoes with bacon-sesame brittle and scallions.
Source: Bon Appetite, March 2012
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM lens shot at F/4.0, 1/60th second, ISO 400