Monday, September 9, 2013

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes - made August 27, 2013 from
The food blogging world is much like the retail one in that it advances the season - you know, it's not even Halloween yet and the Christmas stuff is already up.  You can't find a winter coat in February but all the swimwear is on display. In food blogging, the goal is to get the seasonal stuff up before the season so people have time to find it, try it out, talk about it, blog their own version, etc. I mean, who makes heart-shaped baked goods in March or Easter baskets in June? I started noticing pumpkin baked goods on pinterest around the 4th of July that nearly freaked me out because I was still doing flag brownies.  I'm still writing up foodie places I've eaten at from August and I'm probably a good two weeks behind in posts about baked goods I've made.  So I'm typically perpetually behind.

But not this time - I'm ahead of the game with a Thanksgiving recipe, woot!  Okay, okay, it didn't start out being for fall or any holiday at all.  I was simply hankering for sweet potatoes last month and trying to talk myself out of buying some sweet potato fries which would in turn lead to a burger because you have to have something to go with the fries. To prevent myself from wandering down that path, I decided to buy sweet potatoes and make something with them. The funny thing is, I never used to like sweet potatoes at all.  I think the first time I had them was in mashed form and someone must've added a lot of sugar to them because all I could taste was over-sugared mush. No thanks.
My palate has evolved a little since then.  I still don't like mashed sweet potatoes but I do like them baked and, of course, fried.  For this experiment, I thought I'd try caramelizing them.  Yes, that would be adding sugar to sweet but I was really going for crunch as in, the sweet potatoes being caramelized in brown sugar would form a bit of a crunchy crust.  I've had them that way before (ironically it was on a tour of China and they were THE BEST I'VE EVER HAD) and they were stupendous.  I sniffed around on the web and came across this recipe from

Martha usually knows her stuff and she wasn't wrong this time either.  I loved this recipe.  You can't taste the orange juice and I forgot to zest the orange to sprinkle on top of the caramelized sweet potatoes but they were good nonetheless.  They didn't really get crunchy but that could also be because I was afraid of cooking them too long and setting off my smoke alarm from burnt sugar (why yes, I do know what that's like).  But I did get some nice browning and caramelization before I took them off the burner.  The texture was just right, not overcooked or mushy and not undercooked or tough and I didn't think it was too sweet but just right.  I usually don't make any part of the Thanksgiving meal except for dessert but this year I think I'm going to shoehorn this in as a side dish. I'll take these over mashed potatoes any day.
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
3 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
Zest of 1 orange
  1. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add potato wedges to the pan, and stir until coated with butter. Add 1 cup water and the orange juice; cover, and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove cover, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  3. Combine sugars, and sprinkle over potatoes; toss until coated. Continue cooking until the sugar starts to caramelize and potatoes have a brown glaze, 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally to prevent potatoes from burning. When caramelized sugar bubbles and browns around the edges, remove potatoes from pan. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with orange zest, and serve immediately.

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