Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes


I have come to love sweet potatoes since I got away from my nightmarish childhood versions loaded with brown sugar, honey, marshmallows or some ungodly combination of the three. The truth is that sweet potatoes don't need ANY additional sugar... hence the name... and in my opinion, savory or spicy flavorings compliment their natural sweetness without being cloying. This roasted version cooks up crispy with no fat and tons of flavor - my favorite combination.

Making these is easy except for ONE thing: cutting the whole potatoes into halves and then quarters. Sweet potatoes are HARD. If you don't have a lot of arm strength, either find someone who does to help or get the smallest sweet potatoes you can find. Even with a freshly sharpened chef's knife, I had to exert major pressure to cut through the large sweet potatoes I had on hand. I don't have a cleaver and I'm not comfortable with them, but I imagine that might make the job easier too.

For 2-4 side servings:
3 large sweet potatoes or 6 small ones
1 1/2 tablespoons Caribbean jerk seasoning (McCormick is great) or Cajun seasoning (I use Zatarain's)
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375. With a vegetable peeler, scrape the peels off the potatoes. Cut each potato in half, then in quarters and then into bite sized chunks.

Spray a large baking pan heavily with cooking spray. Lay the potatoes in the pan and spray them with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice. (note: jerk tends to be hotter than Cajun!). Toss to distribute the seasoning and re-arrange the potatoes so they are in a single layer. Use multiple pans if needed.

Roast 30-40 minutes, shaking the pan a few times during cooking and turning once if desired.

Note: these do not keep well - they get soft when chilled - so don't make more than needed.

Variation: if both Cajun and Jerk are too spicy for your tastes, try this combination: 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. It's almost the same flavorings I use in my Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe.

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