Monday, January 16, 2012

Basics: Baked Sweet Potatoes

There comes a time, when we all have to sit down and figure out "how does one do that?"  My time came last fall when I was sitting down at Outback eating the most delicious sweet potato I had ever had.  It was so tender it would melt in my mouth, it mashed with barely the movement of my fork.  It was heaven in my mouth.
Growing up my mom had always just poked holes in her potatoes and threw them into the microwave until they were cooked through, which bless her heart, did not lend to a fluffy baked potato, in fact, sometimes they were down right dry.  With my husband learning from his parents, he would also poke holes in them, but instead of stopping there he would wrap them in parchment paper and add a tablespoon of water before tossing them into the microwave.  These would lend to a much more moist potato but not really a fluffy one either.
I guess what I'm saying is, that I never knew that a potato could be so deliciously fluffy, and other restaurants had upheld that belief giving me potatoes that ranged from ones that should never be served to anyone to ones that were similar to what I had been making at home.
When my waitress came back I asked her how did they manage to make such tasty potatoes, she looked at me and simply said "we wrap them in foil and cook them until they're done, and then add honey butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to them." In other words, she knew just as much as me; or did she? 
The next day I went home and tightly wrapped up two of my sweet potatoes in tinfoil and put them in a 400* oven on a jelly roll pan for 30 minutes and checked them by applying soft pressure to the potato under the foil.  I kept checking them every 5 minutes until they felt soft... the first one was done at around 40 minutes, the other was slightly larger and took about 65 minutes, though both were deliciously soft and fluffable with a fork. I put in a large tablespoon and a half of brown sugar topped with a tablespoon of honey butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.  I was once again in love, and better yet, I found a way to make the best baked potatoes, sweet or other wise, to boot.

Basics: Baked Sweet Potatoes

1 Med size Sweet Potato
1 -1/2 Tbsp Brown sugar
1 Tbsp Honey Butter (recipe here)
sprinkle cinnamon

tinfoil for wrapping

  1. Preheat oven to 400*f
  2. Wash your sweet potato to remove any remaining dirt or foreign debris
  3. Wrap potato in tinfoil, I prefer the "pouch" method where the ends roll up and the top rolls down, makes for easy opening later and reduces risk of juices spilling around the oven
  4. Place on a cookie sheet in the center of oven and cook for 30 min. After cooking for 30 min, check the potatoes by giving them a gentle "squeeze", I use an ove-glove but one could use a pot holder if they dont have one, at any rate, be careful not to burn yourself!
  5. If potato does not "smoosh" with gentle pressure cook for another 5-10 minutes and then check again.  Potatoes this way may take longer, but they are definitely worth the wait!
  6. Once potato is cooked through, remove from oven and carefully unroll the top, make sure not to burn yourself on the escaping steam.
  7. Slice open the top of the potato so that you have an area to add toppings.  In this area put your brown sugar, then on top of that add your butter, then finally top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. 
  8. Serve immediately.

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