Friday, January 16, 2009

Helluva Side

Dinner post, again, no pictures due to hunger and camera being in another room.

I grilled up a pork chop last night. Dry rub of a whole whack of stuff (all ground - orange peel, lemongrass, coriander seed, mexican chili powder, marash pepper, habanero salt, sweet smoked paprika, black pepper, garlic salt, habanero powder, cayenne pepper), olive oil, and a cast iron grill.

It was good.

I also wokked up some bok choy, zucchini, garlic, and mushrooms in sesame oil and butter, with some salt, black pepper, and grated ginger.

Also good.

But the real reason I made the meal was for the twice-baked sweet potato.

Dayum.

I fried up a couple strips of bacon and drained them on a paper towel.

I took the aging sweet potato I had and forked it a bunch. In the microwave it went for 5 minutes. I flipped it, and nuked it for 2 more minutes. It was all kinds of soft and steamy. I quickly wrapped it in foil and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Oven preheated to 375 degrees.

While this was going on, I poured some heavy (whipping - 35%) cream into a bowl. I grated some parmesan reggiano and roasted garlic havarti into it. I chopped up a green onion and tossed that in. I tore up the bacon into little bits and dropped that in the mix. Then came the mexican chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, smoked paprika, and black pepper. There might have been some marash pepper and habanero powder too, I'm not sure.

I cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise and scooped out the flesh, keeping the skin intact. The scooped stuff went into the cream/bacon/cheese/onion/spices mixture. Everything was mixed up until it was one creamy mashed sweet potato pile of goodness. This was then spooned back into the skins and smoothed out to fill the space.

Into the oven it went, flesh exposed. 20 minutes later I took it out, and was disappointed by lack of browning. Up to the broiler for a few minutes!

Alternately, you can microwave for another 6-8 minutes, but I wanted it to firm up.

I devoured one half, and forced myself to keep the second half until the everything else was finished because it was so damned tasty.

That is one that's going to stay in rotation.

As an aside, my mom tells me that I loved sweet potatos/yams so much as a baby that I turned orange. I remember seriously NOT liking them as a child the one time my mom tried to feed them to me. I further recall trying them again in my teens and twenties and while not despising them, having a really hard time eating a whole one.

Then I discovered why. Why do people insist on serving them with sweet ingredients? Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Honey? Maple syrup? Brown sugar? These options turn an already sweet vegetable into a sickeningly sweet one, to the point where it's unappetizing. In fact, I think the types of sweet involved here are at odds with one another, and end up clashing with whatever other aspects of the course there are (except maybe a glazed ham or fruit-baked pork roast/chop). When I first had them with SAVOURY ingredients, it was a revelation. The texture of a well-baked potato, but with far more inherent flavour. This creates a side that isn't overtaken by its additions (like a potato can be), but is complimented by them.

But if you really don't like them, try the above with a regular ol' potato (russet or yukon gold perhaps?), it will still be delicious.

1 comment:

HighOnPoker said...

Hey Astin. I decided to try making a twice-baked sweet potato last night, inspired by your post. I followed most of your preparation suggestions, but swapped out a lot of ingredients, mostly because I was working within wifey Kim's palatte and what I had convenient to me. Whatever the case, it was a HUGE success. She loved it and it came out great. Thanks.