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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes - No Sugar Added

Sweet potatoes is a root vegetable which is loaded with nutrients. It is very popular in India as a food to be eaten the days when one is fasting. Growing up I ate several versions of this. Boiled with milk, boiled with sugar sprinkled on it, and also cooked in ghee, with sugar. The one cooked in ghee was my  favorite version of this until I came across this recipe. This has got to be the best recipe that I have come across for cooking sweet potatoes. Before this, I hadn't realized how sweet, sweet potatoes really are. This is a recipe from my Cook's Illustrated book, that I came across when I was trying to select sides to go with a meal I was making, when entertaining a few friends. It was a festive occasion and I wanted to make an elaborate meal with new dishes. This is an easy, recipe. The cooking time is lengthy, but the preparation time is very short and there is really very little you have to do when the potatoes are cooking.

I made this the first time around, but ever since then, my husband has always made them and he will always get sweet potatoes every time he goes grocery shopping. It is so delicious and sweet, that you could also eat it as a dessert sometime. And it is completely sugar free!! Can you believe it? If not read on and do give it a try. This is my favorite sweet potato recipe and it may become your favorite recipe too!

4 large sweet potatoes
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly, scrubbing them well to remove any dirt. You can leave the skin on or peel them. Cut these into 1/2 inch thick disks, discard the ends. Drizzle the oil on it, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it and toss these well together, to coat all the slices.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray oil on the foil. Line the potato slices in one layer on the foil. Then take another piece of foil and cover the baking sheet with this foil, crimping it on the sides with your fingers, so that it is nicely fitted around the sheet and forms a seal.
Now place this baking tray on the center rack of your cold oven. Do not pre-heat the oven. Once the potatoes are in the oven, set the temperature to 425F and let these potatoes cook for 30  minutes. Then remove the tray from the oven. Remove the foil covering the potatoes and then place the tray back into the oven for 10-20 minutes. Keep a check on the potatoes after 10 minutes and once you see the bottom of the slices caramelizing, remove it from the oven. Then flip all the potato slices and cook these for another 10-20 minutes till the slices have caramelized on the other side.

Serve warm, though these taste great even when cold.

You can scale this recipe up or down easily. Just make sure to scale the oil accordingly. You need a quantity of oil that is just enough to coat the slices.

Make sure to clean the potatoes really well if you plan to keep the skin on. Spraying the foil is important to make sure the potatoes do not stick to the base as they caramelize.
Once the caramelizing process starts, it is important to keep a check on the potatoes, as they can burn easily. Hence the range of 10-20 minutes is given. I have sometimes seen caramelizing occur in 10-12 minutes and sometimes at 18 minutes depending on the number of potato slices being cooked.

The original recipe called for the potatoes to be peeled and the oven to be cold at the start of the cooking process. However, through the months that we have made this, we have been successful at getting a great end result even with leaving the skins on and putting the potatoes in the oven after it had preheated to 425F. We have even cooked it with covering it with the foil and the result was still delicious. So, overall I think this is a very forgiving recipe and an easy one to make.


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