Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes - made February 22, 2014 from The Quick Recipe by the editors of Cooks Illustrated
I've been so obsessed with trying out all the recipes I've pinned on pinterest that I've been woefully neglecting my cookbooks. They stand at attention in various bookcases (yes, I have that many), in silent reproach that they gather dust every time I walk by and ignore them in favor of shiny new recipes I find on other foodie blogs. In my more fanciful moments, usually when I'm sleep deprived, I wonder if they plot to fling themselves off the shelves to land at my feet, open to a recipe that might tempt me to pay more attention to them.

Okay, weird moment has passed....

To assuage my self-inflicted guilt ("self, you bought all these at some point and don't use them enough - so.....why did you buy them again?"), I cracked open a few to search out recipes that use sweet potatoes. I had a bag to use up and I wanted to do something more than peel and boil them or bake them. Whenever I'm focusing on a particular ingredient to use, I like to check anything by Cooks Illustrated because they'll generally have it and will talk about what they did to it to make it the best they could come up with.
As they did with mashed sweet potatoes. I always thought you just boil them then mash them and voila, mashed sweet potatoes. My, how naive, the Cooks Illustrated people would think me. They had a 2-page write up on their experiments with butter, milk, cream, boiling, peeling, not peeling, baking, and so on. I trusted they knew what they were talking about and tried out the recipe of their end result. And whaddaya know, they really are all that.

I like sweet potatoes but sometimes the uninspired way I make them leaves them too mushy. I like the taste (although sometimes it does seem a bit watered down when I boil it) but the texture is sometimes a little too goopy or gluey. I figured that's just the way they were and kept on eating. Now I know better. This recipe prepares them to just the perfect consistency, not firm but also not too goopy. The flavor is also more robust as full-on sweet potato although I'm not sure I like the added flavor of butter. Butter is fine - and preferable - on white mashed potatoes but I like my sweet potatoes without it as they're flavorful enough without the added taste and calories of butter. Still, this version is far superior to the normally plain way I make mashed sweet potatoes. The Cooks Illustrated people really have some game.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 2 large or 3 medium-small potatoes, peeled, quartered length-wise, and cut cross-wise into 1/4"-thick slices
pinch ground black pepper
  1. Combine the butter, cream, salt, sugar and sweet potatoes in a 3 to 4-quart saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork, 35 to 45 minutes.
  2. Off the heat, mash the sweet potatoes in the saucepan with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Stir in the pepper and serve immediately.

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