Sweet Potatoes Cut Loose
Doing the Tuber Twist

Hereís a fact to casually toss out during your Turkey Day feast: North Carolina is the No. 1 producer of sweet potatoes in the United States; more than 40 percent of the national crop comes from our state. The orange spuds grown in the Tar Heel State are these types: Beauregard, Carolina Rose, Carolina Ruby, Cordner, Hernandez, Jewel and N.C. Porto Rico 198. The delicate color and sweet undertones of the versatile tuber, which is packed with nutrition, fit right into the festival of plenty celebrated the fourth Thursday of November. You donít have to serve the starch candied in sugar or smothered by marshmallows in order to honor tradition. These recipes, from salad to dessert, are as easy as sweet potato pie to make while bringing a fresh take to the Thanksgiving table. (Recipes courtesy of the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission.)

Hot Fresh Sweet Potato Salad

5 cups sweet potato, cooked and sliced
3 slices bacon
3/4 cup chopped fresh onion
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 cups chopped peeled fresh tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook bacon in large skillet until light brown. Remove bacon from skillet, drain and crumble. Add onion to skillet and sauté until tender. Blend in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in water, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and mustard. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Mix well. Heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon.

Makes 6 servings.


Sweet Potato Bisque

2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
1-1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup refrigerated salsa
Green onion sprigs

In 2-quart saucepan, combine first eight ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Purée in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to saucepan; add milk and heat through.
Serve garnished with salsa and green onion.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Southern Sweet Potato Corn Soup

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
One (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup minced onions
1/4 cup minced celery
2 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Three (15-ounce) cans sweet potatoes, drained and diced

In stockpot, melt butter or margarine; add flour and blend. Gradually add 3 cups milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

In another pot, combine corn, onions, celery and 2 cups milk; cook over low heat until milk is scalded.

Add vegetable mixture to the white sauce in stockpot; season with salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes. Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally.

Makes 8-10 servings.



Sweet Potato Buttermilk Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and grated

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, beat egg until frothy. Stir in buttermilk and sweet potato. Pour sweet potato mixture into flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour batter into greased 9x9x2-inch square baking dish. Bake 20 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed with fingertip. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

Makes 12 servings.


Sweet Potato Cranberry Nutbread

3/4 cup sweet potato, cooked, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In large mixing bowl, combine mashed sweet potato, brown sugar, butter, eggs, orange peel and orange juice. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace; blend into sweet potato mixture. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Pour into greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake in 350-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan. Cool. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap. Store overnight for easy slicing.

Makes 1 loaf.



Sweet Potato Patties

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

Sauté onion in oil until soft. Remove onion from skillet. In a bowl, combine cooked onions, salt and pepper, chopped parsley and mashed potatoes. Form into cakes. Sauté in remaining oil in the skillet, about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Serve hot.

Makes 5-6 servings.



Roast Turkey Breast With Warm Sweet Potato Pineapple Relish

2 boneless turkey breasts with skin (1-1/2 pounds each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup pineapple juice reserved from relish
1/2 cup chicken broth

One (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 to taste
One (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries (not necessary to thaw)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or coat a 9x13-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. (The meat will go on cooking and the temperature will rise to 170 degrees or 175 degrees. If the turkey has a popper in it, it should pop up while the turkey rests.)

Meanwhile, make relish: Drain pineapple, reserving juice. In a large skillet, melt butter over high heat. Add sweet potatoes and sauté, stirring, until barely tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice, ginger, sugars and salt. Stir in cranberries. Cook, stirring, until berries begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Stir in pineapple chunks. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Makes 6-8 servings.


N.C. Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Mascarpone Cheese

4 medium-size sweet potatoes
1 medium-size russet potato
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup herb, vegetable or chicken stock
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 bunch sage, finely chopped

Roast sweet potatoes in center of oven at 300 degrees, about 1 hour or until tender. Peel and keep warm. Place russet potato in boiling water and cook until tender; drain. Peel and coarsely chop russet potato. In a rice mill, rice warm sweet potatoes and russet potato. If ricer is not available, press potatoes through a coarse sieve. Stir in flour, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper; mix well.
Place sweet potato mixture into pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch diameter tip. Bring water to boil in large, open pot. Squeeze pastry tube over boiling water, cutting mixture with kitchen shears at 1/2-inch intervals. Cook in boiling water until dough floats to the surface; drain and keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough.

Sauce: In a saucepan, heat shallots, garlic, sugar, cream and stock. Add cheese and sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine gnocchi with sauce and serve.

Makes 10 servings.



Sweet Potato Stuffing

1 pound ground pork sausage
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
2 beaten eggs
Two (7-ounce) packages of cornbread or breadcrumb stuffing mix

Brown sausage, drain off fat. Sauté onion, celery, green pepper and sweet potato cubes in butter until tender. Combine sausage, vegetables, orange peel and parsley. Add broth, orange juice and eggs; stir. Combine with stuffing mix. Makes enough to stuff a 16- to 20-pound turkey. As a side dish, place in greased casserole. Bake in 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

Makes 12 servings.



Sweet Potato & Dried Plum Tzimmes

5 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 pound dried plums (prunes), whole or bits
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup apple juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Peel sweet potatoes and slice in wedges. Combine with dried plums in a large baking dish and sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice, stock, apple juice, salt and pepper. Toss to distribute seasonings and coat sweet potatoes. Cover and bake for 1 to 2 hours, until sweet potatoes are softened. Add more liquid if necessary to keep moist.

Makes 8 servings.


Miller’s Sweet Potato Chips

2-3 large sweet potatoes, sliced thin
Peanut oil for frying (2-4 cups)
1/4 cup fresh grated cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar in bowl and set aside.

Wash and dry the potatoes and slice with a mandolin or food processor. Lay on paper towels to soak up excess water (if necessary) as the oil heats. Use a wok or a deep fryer at medium-high heat. Fry in small batches (10-20 chips), depending on the size of the fryer, to avoid uneven cooking. As the chips begin to brown, remove and drain, let dry.

Begin another batch of chips. When the second batch is removed from the oil, re-fry the previous batch for 10-30 seconds until desired crispiness, and drain on paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture. Repeat above until all the chips are done.

Note: Try various thicknesses of chips and modify cooking time.

Makes 2-6 servings.



Marbled Sweet Potato Cheesecake

2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup butter, melted
Four (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For crust, combine crushed crackers and chopped nuts. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture onto bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan; set aside.

For filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add sweet potatoes, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger, salt and cloves. Beat well. Add eggs all at once. Beat on low speed just until combined.

Remove 1/2 cup filling; stir in melted chocolate. Gently pour plain filling into springform pan. Drop small spoonfuls of chocolate mixture onto filling. Use a spatula to gently swirl batters.

Place pan in a shallow baking pan on oven rack. Bake in a 375-degree oven about 40 minutes or until center of cheesecake appears nearly set when shaken. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to loosen from side of pan. Cool 30 minutes more. Remove side of pan. Cool completely. Chill in refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Makes 16 servings.



N.C. Sweet Potato Custard With
Warm Caramel Sauce

1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 eggs
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar

SWEET POTATO CUSTARD: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 13x9x2-inch pan with a thin kitchen towel. Butter eight 6-ounce custard dishes and sprinkle with sugar. Place custard dishes in towel-lined baking pan. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sweet potatoes, salt and cream. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, ginger, nutmeg, eggs, orange juice, zest and sugar until well blended. Slowly add warm cream mixture. Mix until well incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Carefully pour strained custard mixture into prepared custard dishes.

Add enough warm water to baking pan to reach one inch high and place in preheated oven. Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until the custard is completely set. Remove from oven; let custards cool to room temperature in the remaining water. Transfer to refrigerator to cool completely.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1-1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup unsalted butter until butter is completely melted. Whisk in 1/2 cup whipping cream and continue to stir until sugar is dissolved and the sauce is smooth, about three minutes.

Serve custard cold, topped with warm caramel sauce.

Makes 8 servings.