Taters Two Ways
November 25, 2009
When I was a girl, my grandmother used to call me ‘Spuds’. Today, I’m not fond of that childhood nickname, but in hindsight, I see now that my Memah gave me this endearing nickname based solely on my potato obsession. Potatoes are simply one of my favorite foods. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a tater I didn’t like. I collect as many recipes as I can that tempt me, especially if they involve that lethal combination of cheese, potatoes and butter.
So when two blogger friends sent me two new potato recipes, I had to add them to the Guest Blogger Week lineup, especially since they have dramatically different views on the sweet potato. I’ve never made sweet potato pie myself (gasp!) – I’ve always been a pumpkin pie gal, so when Sarah from Sarah’s Musings sent me her recipe, I was really very excited to try it.
And then there’s my hilarious friend Erin over at The Fierce Beagle who cracks me up with her witty banter in her daily blog posts. You really must pay her a visit sometime – her humor is incredibly infectious. She’s going to give us a version of her Irish Thanksgiving Potatoes.
But first, here’s Sarah:
Sarah’s Recipe for Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest blogger on your blog for Thanksgiving week! I was never a big pumpkin pie or pecan pie fan; on their own they always left me wanting more. After going to college in New Mexico and being introduced to sweet potato pie from a Southern friend, I fell in love. Sweet potato pie, to me, is like a creamier, more intensely flavored version of pumpkin. The combination in this recipe of the creamy, spicy sweet potato and a thin layer of pecan makes for the perfect pie for celebrations.
I’ve made this several times over the past few years, adapting it to suit our palates and to suit new techniques I’ve learned as I’ve become a better baker. Now, it is a Thanksgiving favorite in our home!
Deep Dish Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen; makes an 8-inch pie
2-1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold and diced into very small pieces
Ice cold water
Sweet Potato Filling
2 to 3 sweet potatoes (enough to yield 1 cup cooked pulp), baked
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon egg, vigorously beaten until frothy (using remaining eggs in pecan topping, below)
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pecan Pie Syrup
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, minus 1 Tablespoon egg, used above
1-1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
pinch of ground cinnamon
3/4 cup pecan pieces or halves
For the Crust
In a cold mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or your fingers until butter is roughly the size of small peas.
Drizzle 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water on top of the buttery flour. Gather the dough together and press to combine pieces. Add a little bit more water a tablespoon at a time until all the clumps of dough combine into a fairly shaggy, uniform mass. Press dough into a circle and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour (or up to 24 hours if making in advance for a holiday!) in the fridge. This dough can also be made ahead and frozen. Allow to defrost for a day in the fridge before using.
For this recipe, prepare an 8-inch cake pan for baking, greasing and flouring the inside (I used a springform cake pan and it released with ease). Do not use a pie pan as the filling will overflow.
Roll out your pie crust on a lightly floured board, moving the crust a quarter turn with each roll to reduce sticking. Once your dough is large enough to fill both the cake pan and up the sides (roughly a 13″ diameter circle) fold it lightly in half and place, gently in the bottom of your prepared cake pan. Gently press the bottom in and, with your fingers, crease along the bottom edge and up the sides to fit tightly in the pan.
You will have excess pie crust and this is okay. With your rolling pin, roll along the edge of your cake pan to cut off and release the excess crust off the top. Set aside for another use or cut into small shapes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake until brown. These are a great treat for little ones! Pinch the top of the crust into decorative scallops with your fingers.
Store prepared crust in the fridge for up to an hour while preparing your fillings.
This is my go-to crust recipe. I’ve tried so many, some with the additions of vinegar or vodka. Some with a mix of butter and lard. Some with yogurt in place of some of the water. But this one wins every time. This recipe, if making normal sized pies (not deep dish) will make two pie crusts.
For the Sweet Potato Filling
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Do not overbeat.
The easiest way, in my opinion, to make the sweet potato pulp required is to peel sweet potatoes and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Place in a covered casserole with a tablespoon or two of water and bake for about 30 minutes. They’re done when you can mash them with only gentle pressure with a fork. (Note that sweet potatoes oxidize in air, so don’t cut them too far in advance of baking or keep them, cut, submerged in water until you’re ready to use) These can be made up to three days in advance of baking pie. Simply mash with a potato masher in the casserole, measure and you’re done! Any leftover is great used as baby food or mixed in with bread dough or as a vegetable soup thickener.
Canned sweet potatoes can be used, just make sure you get the sweet potatoes that are in light syrup. Fresh are so much better.
Pecan Pie Syrup
Combine all ingredients except for pecans in a mixing bowl. Mix on slow speed with an electric mixer until the syrup is opaque, about 1 minute. Turn off mixer, stir in pecans and set aside. Spoon the sweet potato filling into the dough-lined cake pan and level, evenly, with a spatula. Pour pecan syrup on top; pecans will rise to the top of the pie when baking. Bake in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean, about 1 hour and 45 minutes to two and a half hours.
Cool and serve with bourbon-spiked whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Thanks so much Sarah for your deep dish sweet potato pecan pie recipe! Now, here’s my friend Erin from The Fierce Beagle with her Irish Thanksgiving Roasties, and the flavor of her humor thrown in.
“Confession: I’m Irish. And not Irish in the distinctly American my-great-great-grandparents-came-over-on-the-boat way. My parents fell in love (gross) when my American dad and my Northern Irish mom met in England nearly 30 years ago. I even lived in Belfast with them when I was little, and my entire maternal side of the family is overseas. But for most of my life, we’ve lived in the United States, doing American things like saying “eraser” instead of “rubber,” denouncing the queen for the sake of U.S. citizenship, and celebrating Thanksgiving. Albeit, always with an Irish twist.
Being genetically predisposed to believe strongly in the merits of the potato, the concept of sweet potatoes is highly offensive to me. Potatoes are not sweet, nor are they orange. I grew up believing that the only orange thing on the table should be a carrot.
I didn’t realize how un-American our Thanksgiving meals were until I joined my husband at his very Southern grandparents’ house for a feast riddled with oddities: sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, broccoli casserole, banana pudding (apparently, puddings and casseroles are big in the South). And I couldn’t believe it — not a real potato in sight!
Since then, I’ve injected a little sense into the equation and introduced my in-laws to some delicious Irish fare. I’ve made believers out of them, and I hope to do the same with you. Roasties are a good start. Be forewarned, I’m giving these directions Irish-style, which basically means incredibly imprecisely. The beauty of the recipes, though, is that precision isn’t required.
These potatoes aren’t really roasted, but boiled and then deep-fried, resulting in soft, fluffy insides and crisp, savory outsides. They’re best served with gravy — Bisto to be precise.
Step One: Get a lot of potatoes, however many you think your family would eat. I recently tried this recipe with red potatoes, and it worked and they were delicious, but something about the starchiness of them caused the oil in the deep fryer to temporarily freak out. So I recommend white potatoes, of your choosing.
Step Two: Peel potatoes and cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks. Toss them in a big pot of cold water, bring to a boil, and continue boiling for a few minutes until the potatoes are just tender, but not falling apart. We ain’t mashing these babies.
Step Two and ½: While you’re boiling the taters, get your deep fryer (or Dutch oven) preheating. The same setting or heat that you’d use for French fries is the way to go.
Step Three: Place your boiled potatoes in the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes. Then check their color—they should be a rich, golden brown with a crispy outside. If they’re the color of sickly fast-food fries, they’re not ready. Once you’re satisfied with the color, let them drain on some paper towels while you do the next batch until all the potatoes are done.”
Thanks Erin for your Irish Roasties recipe. Please hop on over to Erin’s blog to witness her undeniably humorous daily adventures.
And now put your gloves on and get ready to rumble. Let the great tater debate begin.
Is your Thanksgiving incomplete without the sweet potato ? Do you have a really great potato recipe that is always on your Thanksgiving table ?