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Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans

16 - Sweet Potatoes & Pecans 2Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans

Did Thanksgiving creep up on you this year like it did to me?  I felt like it was just sort of hanging out there, lurking in the corners, and then after all the drama we’ve had around here with the hurricane and then the Nor’easter it waited until just the right moment to pounce on me, “Ta DAH!  Remember me?  It’s holiday season again!”  (kinda sorta like we used to hide and then jump out of the dark shadows to scare the pants off of my younger siblings when we babysat them).  So, if you’re still pulling together that menu for tomorrow and are looking for colorful side dishes for that holiday table, here’s the recipe for Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans I came up with last year when I was invited to a potluck holiday dinner.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

This vegetable side is a combination of savory with a mild sweetness and hints of citrus and spice so that it balances out all the other foods that you might have on your table.  By using chicken stock to make the mixture creamy, I also limited the amount of butter that I put in the mashed up potatoes, keeping the dairy indulgence for the regular spuds or another helping of pie.  It is easy to transport to a potluck holiday dinner and can be made in advance and reheated just before serving it.  One of the best parts of this dish, too, is that the leftovers can be used to make these Sweet Potato Pancakes for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving.  I might have to make a batch of this just so that I can have the extras to do just that.

Sweet Potatoes

Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans

Prep Time: 1 hour, more or less

Serving Size: 8-10 (see what to do with the leftovers)

Ingredients:

4 large Sweet Potatoes

1/2 c. Chicken Stock, warmed up

3 Tbsp. unsalted Butter

1 Tbsp. Orange Zest

1/2 Orange, juiced

2 tsp. Chinese 5-Spice Powder

1/4 tsp. ground Ginger

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 pinch Black Pepper

Candied Pecans for garnish (recipe below)

1/2 c. Pecan halves

1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

1/4 tsp. Salt

Assembly:

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut in to large chunks.  Place in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down, allow the water to simmer, and cook the potatoes through until they are tender.  You can also cook the potatoes in the microwave until tender, if you prefer.

Cooked Potatoes

With a fork or potato masher, smash up the potatoes until they are relatively smooth with almost no lumps.  Pour in the chicken stock and stir to combine with the potatoes.  Then, mix in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, making sure that the butter is fully incorporated.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Butter

Add the orange zest and juice, the spices, and the salt and pepper and mix well.  Taste.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary.  The flavor should be slightly citrusy, mildly creamy, and have a pleasant backnote of warmth and spice tones.

Mixed Sweet Potato Mash

Spread the potatoes evenly into a baking or serving dish.  This recipe made a good-sized portion of a sweet potato side dish plus some leftovers.  It can be made in advance and then reheated just before it is served.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Before serving it, decorate the top with the Candied Pecans.  Make a few extras to nibble on while waiting for the guests to arrive.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Candied Pecans


Candied Pecans

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

1/2 c. Pecan halves

1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

1/4 tsp. Salt

Assembly:

Place pecans in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Dry roast them for a couple of minutes until they just start to change color and become fragrant.  Toss them briefly to make sure that they pick up a bit of color on the other side as well.  Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and pour in the maple syrup.  It will bubble up.  Stir immediately with a wooden spoon to make sure that all the pecans are coated in the syrup, but don’t let them clump together.

Let the mixture cook for about 30 seconds to allow the syrup to stick to the pecans.  Turn off the heat, and add salt to season.  Please let the pecans cool down before testing them as they’ll be very, very hot coming out of the pan.  Cool on parchment paper, separating the pecans so that they don’t end up in one giant, sticky mass.

Candied Pecans

Buon appetito e Buona Festa!