Fall in North Carolina is the sweet potato’s time to shine. From the best way to bake ’em to a cocktail infused with this tuber, consider these sweet potato recipes this season.
by Addie Ladner
Did you know the humble sweet potato is the official state vegetable of North Carolina? Many of the sweet potatoes found in kitchens all over the country come from right here in North Cackalacky. In fact, according to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Association, our state has been the top sweet potato producer in the United States since 1971 — and In 2016 alone, the state harvested upwards of 95,000 acres worth of sweet potatoes, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture! That’s a lot of sweet potatoes.
It’s no wonder though:, high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but low in fat, sweet potatoes are known for their health benefits. They are also affordable, have a long shelf life, and offer endless cooking ideas. Below we’ve pulled a few lesser-known ways to prepare sweet potatoes from Raleigh area culinary pros to get you inspired.
Stuffed Acorn Squash from Irregardless
This recipe from Irregardless’ plant-forward Thanksgiving feast uses quinoa, black beans, and sweet potato as the stuffing for baked acorn squash topped for creamy avocado.
Stuffed Acorn Squash Ingredients
2 acorn squashes, cut in half, seeds removed
4 teaspoons molasses
½ cup cooked black beans
1 cup uncooked quinoa; 1½ cup lightly salted water, boiled
1 large sweet potato, roasted and diced
1 avocado, sliced
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1¼ cup olive oil
2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic minced (optional)
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Take de-seeded acorn squash halves, place on a pan, and put a teaspoon of molasses in the bottom of the squash cavity. Bake for 30 minutes, then take out of oven and allow to cool. Stir quinoa into the lightly salted boiling water. Bring water back to a boil, then cover pot and turn down heat to a low simmer for 10 minutes.
Afterward, turn cooked quinoa out onto a pan to allow to cool and dry. Prepare dressing for quinoa filling: Blend all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly pour oil into the blended dressing ingredients. Mix cooked quinoa, diced sweet potatoes, and black beans together. Pour dressing over mixture and toss. Fill acorn squash halves with tossed quinoa mixture. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees, and bake stuffed squashes for 30 minutes. Serve topped with avocado slices and optional cranberry-orange relish. Serves 4
Cafe Carolina’s Sweet Potato Biscuits
Ron Hines, the owner of Cafe Carolina, considers his sweet potato biscuits to be “nothing too complicated” — and it’s true, they’re made with just 3 ingredients! These no-fuss classic Southern treats are great for the beginner baker, are easy to throw together on a Saturday morning, and freeze great.
4 cups Bisquick
1 cup brown sugar (reserve half for topping)
2 cups canned mashed sweet potatoes
Directions Preheat a convection oven to 325 degrees. Combine the Bisquick and brown sugar and, with your hands, work through any clumps. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, then hand-mix until batter is evenly incorporated. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop biscuits onto a baking tray. Top each with a generous sprinkle of brown sugar and bake for 18 minutes. Makes 17.
Matt Register’s Sweet Potato Hash
Pork belly and sweet potatoes — how much more North Carolina can you get? While this recipe comes from BBQ master Matt Register’s Thanksgiving menu, it’s also great under a runny fried egg for brunch or as a hearty side dish for a weeknight dinner.
Sweet Potato Hash Ingredients
4 medium sweet potatoes
2 pounds pork belly
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch of sea salt
Directions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dice the sweet potatoes into ½-inch pieces. Transfer the potatoes into a 3-quart casserole dish, cover with foil, and roast for 30 minutes. Set potatoes aside and turn off the oven. (This can be done up to two days before. Cut the pork belly into 1-inch pieces.
In a 10-inch non-stick skillet, over medium heat, cook the pork belly for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Add the brown sugar and sweet potatoes. Continue cooking for 4 minutes more, or until potatoes become fork tender.Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, parsley, and sea salt. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes before serving.Serves 6
Kaitlyn Goalen’s Rustic Winter Vegetable Tart
”I generally put aside an hour for this recipe, and I double, or even triple it. The dough freezes beautifully and having extra on hand is a boon for short-notice entertaining,” says food writer Kaitlyn Goalen of this earthy, free-form tart. This savory taste combines all of fall’s bounty and wraps it up in a flaky pie crust, perfect for fall picnics or meals on-the-go.
¼ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup rye flour
2/3 cup pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Directions In a small bowl, beat the egg and the cream. In a food processor, pulse the flours, salt and sugar to combine. Add the butter and pulse until pea-sized pieces form. Add half the egg-cream mixture and process. Continue to add the egg mixture in small amounts until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Makes 1 crust
Galette Filling Ingredients
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1 Granny Smith apple
1 yellow onion
8 to 10 brussels sprouts
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1/3 cup whole grain mustard
½ cup crumbled high-quality blue cheese (I recommend Maytag)
Directions Remove the galette dough from the refrigerator and let it temper (rest to stabilize). Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the vegetables (I like to use a mandolin for this): Thinly slice the sweet potato into rounds and place in a large bowl. Halve and core the apple, then thinly slice it and add to the bowl. Slice the onions lengthwise so that some of the slices remain attached at the root. Slice the brussels sprouts lengthwise as well, and add both to the bowl. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper and the herbs. Toss to coat. Taste a piece: the seasoning should be pronounced.
Foundation’s Sweet Home Carolina
If fall had an official cocktail Foundation’s Sweet Home Carolina might be it. Crafted with a homemade sweet potato syrup, flavored with pumpkin pie spice, creamed with egg, and livened up with rum, it sounds like one to cozy up with.
The Syrup Ingredients
1 large sweet potato
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
A couple of dashes of pumpkin pie spice
1 cup simple syrup
Directions Start with one large sweet potato. I boil it first, then peel off the skin like the paper around a sticky bun. Pierce the potato with a fork to check for tenderness. If it falls right off the fork, it’s ready. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar and a couple dashes of pumpkin pie spice, then mash that tater.
Add one cup of simple syrup and whisk the mix until combined.Pour the syrup through a sieve and use your whisk to push the potato solids through it. You’ll have some sweet potato left in the sieve, but the syrup will thicken as you whisk the ingredients through. Chill your concoction and expect it to keep for 3 or 4 days.
The Cocktail Ingredients
1½ – 2 ounces your favorite light rum (depending on how much you love your family)
¾ ounces your famous sweet potato syrup
1 whole egg
Directions Add all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously for ten seconds. Add ice and shake again. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Don’t just plop it on there. Make it pretty. Your Grandpappy, or PopPop, or MeeMom, or Nana will be beside themselves.
Kaitlin Goalen’s Three Root & Lamb Hand Pies
Another portable item, spices like cardamom and star anise elevate ground lamb and sweet root vegetables in these savory hand pies. ”Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, are some of the best cooking muses around,” she writes.
Hand Pie Ingredients
8 ounces (two medium) rutabaga, peeled and sliced into wedges
8 ounces (one large) turnip, peeled and sliced into wedges
8 ounces (one medium) sweet potato, such as Batus
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cardamom pods
1 star anise pods
½ pound ground lamb
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup sherry
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 teaspoon salt
Directions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the rutabaga, turnip and sweet potato wedges, butter, olive oil and thyme. Season well with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the vegetables. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. In a skillet, toast the cardamom and star anise. Break upon the cardamom pods and place the seeds and the star anise in a mortar and pestle. Grind finely and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the lamb and cook until no longer pink, about eight minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the red onion and cook until softened, about four minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the lamb. Add the reserved spices, the mustard and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When the vegetables are done roasting, transfer them to a blender or a food processor and add the broth and sherry. Pulse until smooth, then add the root vegetable puree to the lamb mixture. Combine well and set aside. Make the pastry: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or in a food processor until no piece of butter is larger than a pea. Add six tablespoons of ice water to the flour mixture, using your hands to bring the mixture together. Continue to add ice water by the tablespoon until the mixture holds together in a ball. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a diameter of 7½ inches, then gather up the remaining dough and roll out again to get more circles. Repeat until you have six circles. In a small bowl, beat the egg well. Place ¾ cup of lamb filling in the bottom third of each circle, and brush the outline of the circles with egg. Fold the circles in half to form a crescent around the dough and press down on the edges to seal (you can crimp with a fork if you’d like). Place the pies on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 6
Whiskey Kitchen’s Candied Yam with Pecan Butter and Marshmallows
Roasting sweet potatoes is not novel to anyone around here but leave it to Whiskey Kitchen to take something so basic and take it up several notches with pecan butter and caramelized marshmallows. They suggest it as a side dish, but we think this could pass for dessert too.
Candied Yam Ingredients
6 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup blended oil
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
6 bay leaves
1 bag large marshmallows (or make your own, recipe below)
1/2 pound pecan butter (recipe below)
1 tablespoon smoked sea salt (optional)
Pecan Butter Ingredients
1/2 pound butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces granulated sugar
10 ounces corn syrup
4 ounces room temperature water
5 gelatin sheets
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
Directions Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes in salt, pepper, and oil. Wrap sweet potatoes individually in foil, placing one bay leaf with each potato. Place in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until fork tender. Cut open potatoes and add desired amount of pecan butter. Place back in oven for 2-5 minutes more, or until butter is just melted. Take potatoes out of oven and place marshmallow on top of the butter. At this point, if you have a home kitchen torch, you can toast the marshmallow with it. If not, place in oven with broiler on high for a few minutes until toasted. Serve on plate or in foil. Garnish with a dash of smoked sea salt.
Pecan butter: Whip butter, syrup, and salt for 7-8 minutes until it doubles in volume. Add chopped pecans and mix just to incorporate. Pour onto parchment or wax paper, roll into cylinder shape, and chill overnight, or use the pecan butter at room temperature.
Marshmallows: Put water and gelatin in the bowl of electric mixer and let bloom (dissolving gelatin). In a saucepan, combine corn syrup and sugar. Stir together, and bring to a boil until it reaches 230 degrees, using a candy thermometer. When the sugar reaches 230, pour at a steady stream into mixer. When all the sugar is added, finish whipping on high speed for 8 minutes (this helps the mixture double in size and slowly cool down enough to be warm to the touch). Mix powdered sugar and cornstarch together. Coat a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick spray, then a generous sprinkling of the sugar-cornstarch mixture. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan and even out. Once even, put the remaining powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture on top evenly (this helps avoid sticking). Let set for 4 hours or overnight.
Once set, pop out the mallow onto a board and cut into desired shapes. Mickel recommends pairing Ardbeg Corryvreckan single malt scotch; the scotch’s deep peaty, peppery notes balance the yams’ candied sweetness. Serves 6