A Sweet (and Savoury) Treat

I have always had this thing for salty/sweet foods. As a wayward youth, I would dip McDonalds French Fries into their thick chocolate shakes. I have also been known to eat Kit Kat Chunky bars with a packet of Ready Salted Crisps. And of course, I adore anything that combines peanut butter with chocolate.
However, this strange compulsion did not manage to reach the dinner table. That is, until Sunday.
Cooking an ad-hoc and very late Thanksgiving Meal for Paul and a couple of friends, I was asked to prepare Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows, Green Bean Casserole and Cranberry Sauce. It was the least I could do, considering I refused to cook a large turkey (a turkey for four equates to lots of leftovers that just end up in the dogs bowl – not that they mind) and forgot to make any stuffing for the organic chicken I prepared instead.
Paul has been requesting Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows (known in the US as Candied Sweet Potatoes or Yams) every Thanksgiving that I’ve known him and for some reason I’ve never actually prepared it. This year though, I relented. I pulled out a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast and got to work.
The sweet potatoes are drizzled with a little olive oil, wrapped in foil and baked at a reasonably high temperature until meltingly soft. The orange flesh is then stripped easily from the skin and whipped up with some butter, cinnamon, salt and lime juice. This mash (tasty enough to serve alone) is then topped with marshmallows and seared in a really hot oven for 10 minutes until melty, crusty and browned. And that first taste? It is like an orgasm of flavour on the tongue. Every mouthful offers complete and utter satisfaction, whether you smear a dab of it on the chicken, or mix it with a little mashed potato or just savour it alone. Quite simply, it is the best side dish I have ever tasted, all other dishes fading into simple mediocrity when pitched against this ambrosial treat.
Furthermore, the dish transported me, via its heady, scented taste to America, where I have never eaten them before. I have, however, smelt this cinnamon sweet smell all over the US at Thanksgiving. A simple, sweet aroma that I truly gave thanks for.
The best thing about Thanksgiving? I never thought I would say this, but the leftovers. Our guests were sitting on the fence about the Sweet Potatoes (but they loved the Green Bean Casserole) and apparently aren’t as fiendishly desiring of vegetables in various states of mashed-ness. The next day, we fried up the mashed potato and mashed parsnip (another fantastic way to serve this underused vegetable: boil until tender, then mash with lots of butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, dash of maple syrup and a small glug of brandy or rum) with some leftover brussel sprouts: a slightly different version of Bubble and Squeak. This was served alongside the reheated Sweet Potato Marshmallow nectar (still just as good), and some baked beans. Sure, it was a little strange but it was more than just a little great. And not just for Thanksgiving.

If the taste alone isn't enough to get you try it, there are the health benefits from eating Sweet Potatoes (if you minus the marshmallows). They are rich in complex carbohydrates, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 plus Beta Carotine. In 1992, the Sweet Potato ranked highest, compared to other vegetables, for nutritional content and benefit. They are incredibly good for diabetics (definitely minus the marshmallows!) as they can stabilise the blood sugar levels too.
And if you’ll excuse me, I have to go out and buy some Sweet Potatoes – I have half a bag of marshmallows that desperately need using up.


katiez said...

Not being a big marshmallow fan...and not being able to get them in France... I make my 'candied' sweet potatoes with maple syrup. For some bizarre reason I have no trouble getting maple syrup!
Did you have authentic Cream of Mushroom Soup for your green bean casserole?!?

Deborah said...

I have just recently discovered my love for sweet potatoes. I always thought that I didn't like them. They were always on our Thanksgiving table (a special treat for my brother because he is allergic to the white potatoes) but I always passed them up. I have been going crazy with them this year, though!

Anthony said...

Well this is ... uhm ... different. Now baked sweet potato pie covered in brown sugar .. noe I'll go that .. but for some reason I can't get my head around marshmellows :-(

Lydia said...

My mother used to make sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping for Thanksgiving, but I remember it being so awfully sweet. Your grown-up version, with a bit of lime for balance, sounds delicious.

Kitty said...

sounds great...I skipped sweet potatoes this year. I think that next year, a sweet potato Thanksgiving recipe needs to go back into the repertoire.

T.W. Barritt said...

The classic Thanksgiving dish! I missed it this year, but plan to do a little thing with yams at Christmas. What did you think of the green bean casserole? It is a perrenial favorite, and my nephew's all time favorite dish.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Sorry Freya, it just sounds wrong - a kit kat with a bag of salty crisps? French fries dipped in chocolate milkshakes? I think the boys would like it though.

dynagrrl said...

My favorite odd combination of foods for a very long time was Kit Kat candy bars with orange juice. It got me through high school! And sweet potatoes with marshmallow are just the best. It is such an American dish, and one that instantly transports me back home to Oklahoma!

Kelly-Jane said...

I haven't cooked sweet potaotes for ages, will have to buy some tomorrow :)