If you're like me you're not a big fan of those sugary and marshmallow coated sweet potatoes that seem to always get served up next to the turkey. Whether it's Thanksgiving or not you really should consider some alternatives to the baked sweet potato (or yam) casserole that everyone gets but no one really likes.
Sweet Potatoes or Yams?
Before we get into ways of cooking sweet potatoes let me start by confusing you. If you live in the United States and you go to the market to buy sweet potatoes but they only have yams, you're okay. Americans use these terms interchangeably to refer to the same thing, or at least in most U.S. stores they do. If you are outside the United States and you buy a yam you certainly don't have a sweet potato. Now there are of course varieties of both but generally, if want you have is yellow or orange and pointy at the ends it's a sweet potato. Now a yam and we mean a real yam is dark brown or black and looks more like a potato, but it isn't. In fact a yam isn't even a distant relative of either the regular potato or the sweet potato.
We're going to assume that you have sweet potatoes even if what you bought was called a yam and we're going to give you some information about cooking it. First of all the worst thing, you can do to a sweet potato is boil it. Boiling not only removes most the nutrients from the sweet potato (which it has in great quantity) but it removes the flavor. Baking is better. Of course, if you want to match up you turkey side dish with how you cooked the turkey you can grill, smoke and fry sweet potatoes.
Frying Sweet Potatoes
Frying Sweet Potatoes is just like frying potatoes. Cut the sweet potato into thin slices or French fries. You want the hot oil to brown and crisp the surface while the center gets cooked through. And you want to do this quickly so the sweet potato doesn't soak up the oil. This is best done with a 1/4 inch thick piece. Wonder why most all French fries are the same size? Cooking time. It should only take about 5 minutes to fry up a batch of sweet potato fries. If you have deep fried your turkey you can fry your sweet potatoes in the same oil while it is still hot.
Grilling Sweet Potatoes
Grilling Sweet Potatoes is just like grilling regular potatoes. You want to cut the sweet potatoes into small pieces, maybe quarters cut lengthwise. You then want to brush the pieces with olive oil and then grill over a medium to high heat until they brown on the outside and can be easily pierced with a fork. You can marinate the sweet potatoes in an oil and herb mixture to add additional flavors or you can top them with a light dressing after they are cooked. A great way to get the flavor on the sweet potatoes and to keep them from drying out is to baste them with a nice sauce, like a butter, lime and tequila mixture.
Smoking Sweet Potatoes
Smoking Sweet Potatoes is similar to baking them, just at a low temperature. If you are smoking your turkey and have room in the smoker this is a great way to go. You can simply pile sweet potato slices or pieces in a large skillet with maybe some butter, brown sugar, herbs and spices and you have a great smoked sweet potato. The sweet potatoes will absorb some of the smoke flavor while they cook and you will get a great match for your smoked turkey.
There are a couple of other considerations about your sweet potatoes. They do need to be washed very well. If you choose to leave the skins on and get all that extra great flavor and vitamins then you should scrub down the skin and make sure you remove any bruises. Sweet potatoes have a lot of flavor so you can really go crazy preparing them. You might have noticed that we like tequila on our sweet potatoes. It's a flavor that works well. Also good is lime, rosemary, garlic (lots of garlic), butter, honey, brown sugar, oregano...Okay, we could probably go on all day but we won’t. When planning your turkey meal, consider how you can work in your sweet potatoes to the process. Of course, you might not have the room, but that shouldn't deter you from making some besides marshmallow sweet potatoes.