Humble, homey mashed sweet potatoes. Nothing swoon-worthy or earth shaking there. Several people I know, including myself, have banned the canned, syrupy pieces covered in more sugar (of various forms), butter, and encased in either mini or giant nightmare making marshmallows. Stay-puft marshmallow man anyone? While that casserole bubbles and melts, getting gooey and browned, the thought of it makes my teeth ache while shivers start making their way down my body. Waaaaay too sweet! I know it’s traditional on so many tables, but not on mine anymore. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love sweet potatoes. I like them just baked, split open and butter melting into it. I like them pureed and crafted into soup with melted swiss cheese croutons floating on it. I like them mashed. Just like this. This recipe started when I went looking for other sweet potato recipes. I saw several sweet potato and banana casserole things, a couple of mashed with banana but the proportions seemed way off for my taste. Then I stumbled on Adam Perry Lang’s recipe. People were raving about it. Apparently he wouldn’t give the recipe out for many years, nor would he hint as to his secret formula. Then he decided to write a cookbook called Serious Barbecue. It’s a seriously good cookbook that everyone should own. But wonders of all, his sweet potato recipe was included. There was dancing in the streets from what I hear. So I took a look. And there in front of me was a recipe that I could work with. I knew right away that I’d be changing things around but he gave me a basis to work off of. The man is a genius. Thank you APL. Now I have a recipe that people are loving. A recipe that makes people who think they don’t like sweet potatoes go back for second helpings (I’m looking at you, Liv). A recipe that makes people say “I’ve never really liked sweet potatoes, but I like these!”
Sweet Potato Mash with Banana
6 sweet potatoes or large yams, each about 10 ounces
About 1 tablespoons kosher salt
1 banana, with a 2-inch slit cut into the peel
4 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Wash each of the potatoes well, and wrap with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place on sheet pan and bake in a 350 oven for approx. 50 to 60 minutes. You’ll start to smell them, and then check, using a potholder, press gently on each side. When you feel it yield easily, they’re done. Remove them from the sheet pan and place the banana with the slit side up on the pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. The skin should be black and the banana showing some steam and small bubbles through the opening. Remove from oven. Carefully, open the foil on the sweet potatoes and cut off each end, spilt the skin and peel from potatoes. Chop into smaller pieces and put in large bowl or bowl of mixer. When all the potatoes have been added to the bowl, spilt open the banana and starting at the top with a spoon just scoop the whole thing into the bowl. Put the brown sugar and the heavy cream into a measuring cup and microwave for 45 seconds. The sugar should be liquid and the cream will be on top. Just stir it together. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and turn it on low until the potatoes start to break down and everything gets mixed together. Or just mash, mash, mash with your masher. Love that word, masher. Makes your mouth feel funny saying it.
Anyway… As the mixture comes together, start pouring in the sugar/cream mixture until it gets to the creamy consistency you want. I hardly ever use it all, but you might like them looser than I do. I also let some small lumps and bumps remain. Sweet potatoes can be fibrous, so if you want them completely smooth you will probably have to move them to the food processor and finish them there. Your call.
You really can’t taste the banana in there, but it adds a wonderful depth to this dish. I think the ingredients are sweet enough on their own, so I really don’t add much of the brown sugar mixture to this. For me, that’s more about the consistency. I love the warmth from the spices, and I can’t encourage you enough to use really good cinnamon if you can. Seek out the spice sellers at their stores or the markets and choose one. It makes all the difference.
Bring these to your holiday dinner, or potluck supper. I’m sure you’ll hear mmmmmm’s and these are really good, and what did you put in here? Before you know it, against all odds, you’ll be having a conversation about sweet potatoes and banana. I know, who’d of thunk?
Oh, and I do apologize for the photos today. I had a hard time. It’s orange mush, people, orange smushed mush. Gah! Couldn’t come up with one creative thing to do with them (well, I did, but that’s another story). I’m learning and I’m taking some photo classes, so they’ll get better. Promise.