Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Favorites -- Herbs for the Holidays -- Sweet Potatoes

It's Sunday and time for Sunday Favorites, where Chari, from Happy to Design allows participants to share an old blog post with readers, while still taking Sunday off, by reposting an old post.

For the last two days I have been reposting some Holiday Recipes with Herbs in them.

Today we will be revisiting my post of November 20, 2009.

My third segment of Herbs for the holidays is dedicated to Sweet Potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes were always a part of my Thanksgiving meal as a child. My mom cooked them in butter and brown sugar, then topped them with marshmallows. I always liked them, but since Diann isn't a big fan of sweet potatoes, they don't play a starring role at our table. I usually manage to sneak some in, but for the most part we try to cook things that we both like.

OK, time out, for Troy's Trivia Tips:

Although people often use the terms "Sweet Potatoes" and "Yams" interchangeably, they are in fact two distinctly different vegetables.

Sweet Potatoes generally come in two varieties, A pale skinned variety, with a light yellow skin, a darker yellow, dry, crumbly flesh, not unlike a russet potato, and a darker skinned variety, with a reddish skin and a moist, sweet, brilliant orange flesh.
Often, when you buy "canned yams" at the local grocery store, you are actually getting dark skinned sweet potatoes.

Just a quick note here. One of my favorite bloggers, Sue from A Corner Garden, in Nebraska, grows ornamental sweet potatoes in her garden, and has done some experimenting with how they taste. You can read about her taste tests this year by clicking here.

Now back to the post...

Yams, native to Africa, Asia, Latin America and The Caribbean, have a dark brown or black skin, similar to tree bark, and generally an off white or reddish purple flesh. They are often sweeter than Sweet Potatoes, and they can grow up to seven feet long. They must be cooked to be eaten safely, as the raw yam can cause illness, and bare skin contact with raw yams can cause skin irritation.

So, now we have that out of the way, lets talk about some recipes that combine sweet potatoes with the herbs we grew this year:

Herbed Sweet Potatoes

4 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
3 T olive oil
2 t dried thyme leaves
2 t dried marjoram leaves

Preheat oven to 425° F. Lightly oil a sheet pan, large enough to hold the potatoes in one layer. Cut the potatoes into about 1-inch cubes. Place on the sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil . Add the herbs, salt and pepper to taste and; toss well. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes, until tender. Serve immediately or cover lightly with foil to keep warm.
Can be served as is, or mashed together lightly with some butter.

(Note: The peels add flavor, nutrients and texture, but if you must, go ahead and peel them, just don't blame me when you don't get all the vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Copper that you could have otherwise.

Sweet Potatoes with Bacon and Onion

3 slices thick sliced bacon, diced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 medium onions, cut into 8 wedges
1 t salt
1 t dried thyme
¼ t black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook bacon in large, deep skillet until crisp. Remove from heat. Transfer bacon to paper towels; set aside. Add potatoes and onions to drippings in skillet; toss until coated. Stir in salt, thyme and pepper. Spread mixture in single layer in ungreased 15X10-inch jelly-roll pan or shallow roasting pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with bacon.


Skillet Sweet Potatoes~

2 lbs sweet potatoes
2 t smoked paprika
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Small handful minced fresh sage and thyme, -
Wash the sweet potatoes - don't peel. Cut into a fine, 1/2" dice. Toss with paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and oil. Add half the sweet potatoes. Let cook without stirring for about three minutes, then stir and turn them over. Let cook for another few minutes - until they are quite golden and seared.
Add the other half, along with the garlic, and cook them all until tender. The potatoes you added first will get slightly mushier and soft, while the ones added later should keep their shape with a tender bite.
Just as they get tender stir in the herbs and cook just until wilted and fragrant.

Finally, for those who are tired of the same old thing, mix it up a bit by adding a few twists. Instead of just plain old Sweet Potatoes, try serving Sweet Potato Au Gratin

OK, Troy's Trivia Tip #2:

Au Gratin is not a term that refers to a dish made from potatoes, but instead refers to a cooking technique.

Technically Au Gratin means covered in bread crumbs, topped with butter and cheese and baked in the oven. But we have slowly allowed the term to evolve into meaning a creamy potato casserole.

This recipe is more the latter than the former, but as long as you add the "optional" breadcrumbs, it has all the requisite ingredients.

Sweet Potato, Gouda and Herb Au Gratin

4 lb sweet potatoes
1 1/2 t salt
1 C heavy cream
1 C whole milk
3 T unsalted butter, softened
6 oz finely grated five-year aged gouda
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 T. chopped fresh sage
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only, stems removed
2 C Bread Crumbs (optional)

Put oven rack in lower third of the oven and preheat 350°F.
Peel potatoes and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices. You should have enough potatoes for about five layers. Stir together cream, milk and salt.
Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and dot with half of butter. Pour in 1/3 cup milk and cream mixture.
Place one layer of potatoes in baking dish. Pour 1/3 cup cream mixture and sprinkle one fourth of cheese between layers. On the fourth layer, sprinkle the herbs, before topping with the final layer. Otherwise the herbs will burn if placed on top. You can garnish the top later with a few additional herbs if desired. Easy on the sage.
Pour remaining cream mixture over potatoes and dot with rest of butter. You can optionally sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs, too. But the top layer gets dark golden and crisp, so this is not required.
Bake, uncovered, until potatoes are very tender and top is browned, about 2 hours. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

They all sound good to me, but I don't ever see us having four different kinds of sweet potatoes on the table all at one meal.

Besides, my favorite sweet potato recipe is Sweet Potato Pie. Watch for my segment on desserts for that recipe.

If you liked this post, you may want to read:
Herbs for the Holidays -- Stuffing
Herbs for the Holidays -- Cranberries

Don't forget to enter my Giveaway for a $35 CSN Stores Gift Card.You can read all about it and enter here


  1. I'm with Diann on this one...not a fan of sweet potatoes or yams. Hope you enjoy some at your Thanksgiving!

  2. Oh. Yum. My DH and I switched from white to sweet baked potatoes several years back, and much prefer them, but I'd never thought of cooking them with herbs. It sounds delicious, and I Will be trying them. Hmmmm....

    Seven feet long?! Wow. And not exactly safe as found in nature. I never knew that about yams. Very Interesting!

  3. the recipes look wonderful love sweet potatoes and fresh herbs! I am not sure I would be brave enough to eat the Jamaican one though! It looks kinda funny :/

  4. Hi Troy...

    So happy to see you for Sunday Favorites, my friend! What a great post...I really enjoyed all the interesting facts about yams and sweet potatoes! Wow...I can't imagine a yam growing to 7 ft. long. That's amazing! I also didn't know that raw yams could make you sick...eeks! Well my friend, I just love sweet potatoes and they are one of the favored dishes at Thanksgiving by all my family! I always fix them with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and a few pecans if I have them...of course they are topped off with marshmellows! All of your recipes sound scrumptious...I'll have to give them a try! The recipe for sweet potatoes, bacon, and onion sounds really good and something different! Thanks so much for sharing all your great recipes with us for Sunday Favorites this week...this was a real treat!

    Wishing you, Diann, and the Princess a warm and blessed Thanksgiving!!!

    Chari @Happy To Design