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Sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving

| Saturday, Nov. 22, 2003

Thanksgivng is a true American holiday. What sets this Thursday in November apart is the common foods our countrymen prepare regardless of family ethnic heritage as we celebrate the heritage of our nation.

There are hotlines to help with roasting a turkey, but the traditional sweet potato requires no such coaching.

As you plan a Thanksgiving menu, here are a variety of recipes courtesy of North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission to make certain that somewhere within the featured abundance of the table, there is a bit of sweet potato to be sampled and enjoyed.

Serving a first course sounds like more of a major enterprise than the real effort entails. This Thanksgiving, before everyone strolls through the buffet, seat everyone and celebrate the gathering with a toast and a simple soup course with Sweet Potato Rosemary Soup. This is a smooth, savory soup boasting Granny Smith apples, rosemary and a bit of carrot.


Sweet Potato Rosemary Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and white pepper

In large soup pot, heat oil and saute onion five minutes or until softened. Peel and dice sweet potatoes and carrots and add to pot with garlic. Cook two minutes more. Stir in stock and fresh herbs. Peel, core and dice apples; add to soup and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Puree in batches using food processor. Stir in cream. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Serves six to eight.

Nutrition information per serving: 205 calories, 5 grams protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 4 g fiber.

Perhaps you're not serving a horde for Thanksgiving. If your gathering is a small one, consider this offering:


Roast Turkey Breast
With Warm Sweet Potato,
Pineapple and Cranberry Relish

  • 2 boneless turkey breasts with skin (1 1/2 pounds each)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice reserved from relish


Relish

  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or two taste
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries (not necessary to thaw)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9- by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Rinse breasts and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin side up in baking dish. Pour pineapple juice and broth around breasts. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. (Meat will continue to cook and temperature will l rise to 170 to 175 degrees.)

To make relish: Drain pineapple, reserving juice. In large skillet, melt butter over high heat. Add sweet potatoes and saute, stirring, until barely tender, three to four minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice, ginger, sugars and salt. Stir in cranberries. Cook, stirring, until berries begin to pop, about three minutes. Stir in pineapple chunks. remove from heat and let stand five minutes.

Remove turkey from pan and slice thinly. Serve with relish.

Makes six to eight servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 771 calories, 52 g protein, 19 g fat, 83 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 577 milligrams sodium.

Often a holiday dilemma is what to serve the less meat-eating attendees at a Thanksgiving feast. everyone will enjoy sampling Roasted Sweet Potato Risotto made with vegetable stock, and vegetarians really will appreciate having a festive dish made with them in mind.


Roasted Sweet Potato Risotto

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups hot vegetable stock or chicken stock, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (12-ounce package)
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half. Cut half the sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch dice and set aside. Cut remaining sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast until soft, about 30 minutes. Puree in food processor with 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock. reserve.

In large saucepan, heat remaining 3 tablespoons boil, and saute onion and small diced sweet potatoes over medium-high heat. Cook about three minutes until softened but not browned. Add garlic and arborio rice and cook two to three minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in wine. Cook, stirring until completely absorbed. In same manner, add hot stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is completely absorbed and stock is used up. Add sweet potato puree, rosemary, thyme, butter and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves four to six.

Nutrition information per serving: 494 calories, 8 g protein, 68 g carbohydrate, 20 g fat, 4 g fiber.

Set tradition aside and create a new masterpiece for dessert - Sweet Potato Cranberry Napoleon. the custard and topping can be made in advance, leaving phyllo squares to be baked a couple of hours before guests arrive.


Sweet Potato Cranberry Napoleon

Sweet Potato Custard

Cranberry Topping

  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Sweet Potato Custard

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla custard

Make sweet potato puree by cooking 1 medium or 2 small sweet [potatoes in boiling water until soft in center. Remove skin and puree in bowl of food processor with metal blade. You will need 1 cup puree for custard.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, puree, cinnamon and salt. Stir in evaporated milk, water and vanilla. Pour into 13- by 9-inch nonstick cake pan. Bake in water bath; place cake pan in larger pan filled with hot water to 1/2 depth of cake pan. Bake one hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool and refrigerate.

Cranberry Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot

Combine cranberries, sugar and water in small saucepan. Bring to simmer and add arrowroot. Cook until thickened. remove from heat and chill.

To make Napoleons: An hour or so before guests arrive lay out 1 phyllo dough sheet on a sheet pan. Brush with melted butter and repeat until dough is 4 sheets high. repeat this process with the other 4 sheets on another sheet pan. cut each into 12 squares and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Turn chilled Sweet Potato Custard onto cutting board and cut into 12 squares.

To assemble: Place 1 phyllo layer on plate, then a square of custard, then top with a second phyllo layer. Repeat with a second layer of custard and a third layer of phyllo. Top with whipped cream and a spoonful of Cranberry Topping.

Serves six.

Nutrition information per serving: 672 calories, 13 g protein, 34 g fat, 81 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber.

Choosing and storing


Sweet potatoes are available year round, but are most abundant September through June. They sometimes are mislabeled "yams," which actually are not available widely in North America.

Look for: Choose very firm sweet potatoes, with not soft spots, sprouting or wrinkles, which are signs of age. Sweet potatoes vary in size and shape. Those that are straight and uniform are easier to peel and cut.

Storing: Do not refrigerate, as natural sugars will convert to starch, making them bitter. Store in a cool, dry place (55 degrees with low humidity is best), where they should keep for about three weeks.

Source: North Carolina SweetPotato (CQ) Commission

Freebies


  • If you want new ideas on how to prepare sweet potatoes, write for a free copy of "The Best Kept Secret Is Out...", a new recipe brochure from the North Carolina SweetPotato (CQ) Commission features six recipes plus selection, storage and nutrition information. Send stamped, self-addressed envelope to: "The Best Kept Secret Is Out...", North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, Department PK2, PO Box 575, Selma, NC 27576.

  • "Hints for Hassle-Free Entertaining" offers six sweet potato recipes plus entertaining tips. For a free copy, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: "Hints for Hassle-Free Entertaining" PK7, North Carolina SweetPotato Commission, PO Box 575, Selma NC 27576.

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