Friday, January 23, 2009

Molasses Whipped Sweet Potatoes: Obama for Your Mama

We’ve largely shied away from expressing our views on the government here, because it doesn't seem like the appropriate forum. Sure, food is inherently political (and social and economical and mystical and lots of other things ending in “al”), but I’m of the mind that recipes for light cornbread should be uniters, not dividers.

Still, it was hard not to get totally, over-the-moon excited about the inauguration on Tuesday. Whether you dig Obama or not, there was a little something for everyone: cultural milestones, meaningful speeches, Michelle’s dress(es), Sasha and Malia’s general adorability, Reverend Lowery’s racial rhymes, Dick Cheney’s impression of Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, etc.

Being of sound mind and perpetually hungry body, I was particularly interested in the offerings at the Inauguration Luncheon. And folks, get a load of this:

First Course: Seafood Stew
Second Course: A Brace of American Birds (pheasant and duck) served with Sour Cherry Chutney and Molasses Sweet Potatoes
Third Course: Apple Cinnamon Sponge Cake with Sweet Cream Glacé

It’s so scrumptious-looking and so … so AMERICAN. (*waves flag*) Yet, while everything seemed eminently delicious, the sweet potatoes stuck out the most. This is because A) comparatively, they appeared fairly lean, B) there’s just no good wild pheasant wandering around Brooklyn these days, and C) if given a choice between sweet potatoes and my spinal cord, I’d go with the former.

So, last night I got out my pan, my masher, and went to work. And, uh, actually? There wasn’t much work to do. It’s a pretty simple recipe, requiring a pan, a bowl, a masher, and a tongue. The tongue is used for the last step, which is, “HOLY MOLY, EAT THIS UNTIL YOU PASS OUT.”

Those inauguration folks knew what they were doing. These are (*sighs contentedly*) some dang good starches. Smooth, warm, and just sweet enough, they’d make excellent accompaniments to leafy greens and/or lean meats (or pheasant, apparently). The orange juice may sound strange at first, but shouldn’t be skipped under any circumstances. It balances the sugar and brightens the whole dish.

A few notes if you try it yourself:

1) Instead of buying a full half-gallon of Tropicana (we don’t drink OJ), I squeezed half a softball-sized orange for ¼ cup of its juice. It saved about $2, and I used the other half for breakfast this morning.

2) The potatoes will be super-hot when you peel them, but a pair of rubber gloves OR plastic bags around your hands should solve the burn issue.

3) Though the recipe asks for three pounds of potatoes, my calculations are for slightly less, since you lose about four or five ounces in the peeling process.

In conclusion, the inauguration was aces, the President is cute (!), and try the sweet potatoes. It’s what any good patriot would do.

Molasses Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Makes 4-1/2 cups or 6 servings of ¾ cups each
From The Inaugural Luncheon 2009

3 or 4 large sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds), pierced a few times with a fork
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 cup orange juice
1⁄2 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of molasses
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Prep a baking sheet. Put sweet potatoes on it.

2) Roast sweet potatoes about 1 hour, or until you can stab them through without resistance. Remove from oven, and using rubber gloves or plastic bags on your hands, peel the skin from the flesh. (They should still be hot while you're doing this.) (Be careful.)

3) In a large bowl, using a potato masher or a hand mixer, mash the sweet potatoes. There should be no big chunks when you're done. Add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly until lumpless. Salt and pepper to taste.


Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
227 calories, 4 g fat, $0.73

4 large sweet potatoes, skinned (about 44 oz): 950 calories, 1.2 g fat, $2.94
2 tablespoons unsalted butter: 201 calories, 22.6 g fat, $0.16
1 teaspoon kosher salt: 0 calories, 0 g fat, $0.01
1⁄4 cup orange juice: 31 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.50
1⁄2 tablespoon of brown sugar: 17 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.02
1 tablespoon of molasses: 58 calories, 0 g fat, $0.14
1 teaspoon of ground cumin: 0 calories, 0 g fat, $0.02
2 tablespoons maple syrup: 104 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.67
TOTAL: 1361 calories, 24.1 g fat, $4.46
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 227 calories, 4 g fat, $0.73


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