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View Full Version : Need an idiot-proof method for cooking yams/sweet potatoes


funky little lee
03-19-2015, 12:53 PM
OK, Easter is coming, and I'm doing the dinner. Nothing big, just a ham, green beans, rolls, and sweet potatoes. Everything else I can do, but sweet potatoes have become a nemesis to me. If I boil them they end up in shreds, if I fry them they don't cook through, I've never tried baking them but I can't imagine you can cut them into chunks if you do.

I'm good with the brown sugar-butter sauce to put on them, but how can I cook them so they're nice and tender but don't fall apart? Obviously there's something I don't know, so please, enlighten me!

August West
03-19-2015, 01:21 PM
Do you have access to a pressure cooker?

tenacious j
03-19-2015, 01:30 PM
unless you have one of those families who insist on sweetening sweet potatoes with marshmallows, pineapple, sugar, and other ghastly nastiness, you cannot possibly go wrong with roasting.

Do them whole, cut them in half and place flat side down on the tray, peel and dice to any size you like, whatever you want. Like I said, can't go wrong here.

For a crowd and with other sides, I'd suggest cutting them up so you don't cook a whole potato per person, maybe 1 per 2 people. Toss in a big bowl with enough olive oil to coat and some kosher salt and pepper. Spread them out on a big sheet pan. I line mine with foil to prevent stickage and make cleanup easy. Leave space between the potato pieces so they don't just steam themselves, and they have a chance to brown. Roast in a 400 degree F oven until done. If whole, that's an hour, bite size pieces take about 40 minutes and should be turned once during cooking.

Stick a fork in them every once in a while after the 30 minute mark to ensure you don't cook too long, but a few extra minutes won't hurt if you get busy on another course or drinking wine.

They will turn out caramelized and brown, and delicious, and are super simple to make.

DCnDC
03-19-2015, 01:31 PM
NM (ninja'd!)

ZipperJJ
03-19-2015, 01:49 PM
Use sweet potatoes, because yams are fucking hard as rocks!

Lemur866
03-19-2015, 02:58 PM
Roasting is absolutely the only way to go, just like you roast a potato. You can just wash them, trim off any gross parts, and put them in the oven skin-on either whole or cut in half. No seasoning, no salt, no oil, no nothing. Make sure to put them on a baking dish or tray or foil sheet or something because they sometimes leak sugar syrup and that will burn if it drips on the oven. When they're soft (about an hour or so), take them out and dump them in a bowl and serve. You can eat the skin (again, just like a potato), but I don't like to. The skin just comes right off with your fingers when they're done, your guests can do it at the plate. They are pretty forgiving, cook them longer and they just get a little more done.

Roasting is the best method because (unlike boiling) they get concentrated rather than diluted. You don't need any sort of sauce or topping, they're sweet as candy already. Adding marshmallows or brown sugar pushes them into dessert-level sweetness. This assumes we're talking the orange ones. The yellow varieties are kinda meh, I'd rather either have either a regular potato or an really sweet orange one.

Chefguy
03-19-2015, 04:08 PM
We usually cut them into chunks, toss them in oil and seasoned salt, and roast them at about 400F.

Shoeless
03-19-2015, 04:48 PM
If they wind up in shreds when you boil them, go ahead and make mashed sweet potatoes. Add some cinnamon along with the milk and butter when you mash them. Yum!

purplehorseshoe
03-19-2015, 04:55 PM
We usually cut them into chunks, toss them in oil and seasoned salt, and roast them at about 400F.

My suggestion: Add quartered onions about halfway through the roasting time.

Ukulele Ike
03-19-2015, 07:33 PM
I agree with Lemur866. Roasting sweet potatoes is utterly foolproof. You CANNOT overcook them. The only other thing I'd suggest is poking them several times with a fork or paring knife before they go in the oven. Sweet potatoes have a lotta moisture inside and can explode if you don't let the pressure off.

(I also wrap mine in foil, but that's probably not necessary.)

rjk
03-19-2015, 09:40 PM
If they wind up in shreds when you boil them, go ahead and make mashed sweet potatoes. Add some cinnamon along with the milk and butter when you mash them. Yum!

... and after they're mashed, put in a pie plate or cake pan, sprinkle with slivered almonds (or pecan pieces if you want to be more southern) and a mix of brown sugar, a little cinnamon, and maybe some butter, then in the oven until the sugar melts.

Lemur866
03-19-2015, 10:11 PM
I agree with Lemur866.
Ahhhh...sweet, sweet validation.

(I also wrap mine in foil, but that's probably not necessary.)
I agree that it's not necessary and would argue that it's counterproductive. The foil traps water. That's fine if you want to steam them, but roasting them naked allows the water to evaporate, which makes them more concentrated and caramelized.

funky little lee
03-21-2015, 04:38 PM
Thanks! Hopefully this will be THE YEAR that I manage to get everything right! :)

Lorene89095
03-21-2015, 06:44 PM
Baking in the oven is great,but they can be zapped in the microwave and come out whole,moist and delicious

Hoops
03-23-2015, 12:53 AM
Bobby Flay's sweet potato gratin (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/sweet-potato-gratin-367470) has been one of our Thanksgiving mainstays for years now. It's awesome.

Sicks Ate
03-23-2015, 09:14 AM
Well, it probably isn't very good for Easter dinner, but our favorite method now is to wrap then in foil and shove them under the fireplace grate for 45 minutes or so. The high heat gets the very nicely caramelized.
You do need to have a fire on the grate, mind. Otherwise they'll take forever to get done.

Moonlitherial
03-23-2015, 09:26 AM
We usually cut them into chunks, toss them in oil and seasoned salt, and roast them at about 400F.

This is my default method.

My suggestion: Add quartered onions about halfway through the roasting time.

And now I'm upping my game!

I am also a fan of just slicing them, unpeeled. I lay out the slices on the pan, butter the top of each slice very lightly and sprinkle with the seasoning of the day. I'm loving freeze dried spices lately, been making a bunch of my own mixes with different flavour profiles. Just make sure at least a little salt is included.

If you want a little sweetness, I've used a maple salt/maple pepper blend that tastes amazing on potatoes of both types. Mine isn't available online but there are dozens that are.

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