Kitchen Experiment – Seasoned Sweet Potato Smashers

So let’s get the awkwardness out-of-the-way.  Yes our blog has been quiet for some time.  As life happens, other things we make priorities and things get shuffled.  For me personally, I had a work change (now from home which turning out nice) and moved into a new place of my own.  Which means I have time I’m dedicating to things I love, as in spending time in the kitchen.  I keep finding more and more recipes that peak my interest. That and if I’m going to pursue my passion and open a business in the future, I figure I should know something of the things I want on the menu, right?  ;)

And of course I’m behind on the blog entries given that I’ve already got a back log of pics from other things I’ve been doing over the past few weeks.  To avoid overwhelming things, I’ll be posting one a week to keep things on pace.  At least that’s the plan for now…lol.

Today’s kitchen experiment post was prompted a recipe spotted on Pinterest.  I joined this highly addicting website a few months ago and primarily post things relating to quotes, recipes, gadgets and more.  If anyone’s interested in following my pin boards, you can find them here.  So one of the great things about this social site is that you can follow people and  get into the things they like and enjoy.  Needless to say that it is a foodie paradise.  Tons of posts are shared and put all over the place.  Some recipes are DIY style, some are cheats, some are helpful hints (like using a celery stalk to swipe the sides of a food processor and not scratch/nick up utensils – you’re welcome) and then of course there’s just good ol’fashioned recipes.

In this case, I was intrigued by the concept of using older sweet potatoes that I had sitting around for a while (and by a while I mean, looooong time).  This recipe actually mentions about using older sweet potatoes so I figured, what the heck!  And before I forget, much thanks to my previous co-worker and sweetheart Sara R for pinning this.  :)

Here we go… Sweet Potato Smashers – think about taking the blah of basic cooked or boiled ones and putting a little something into it.  The original post is from a few years ago and notably is named ‘Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes’ and can be found here.

The basics are pretty simple:

  1. Parboil sweet potato chunks
  2. Mix together seasoning
  3. Smash chunks to create more surface area
  4. Bake chunks in oven with seasoning mix on top

Now for how things went for me personally.  ;)

I had three decent sized sweet potatoes that were a little on the dry side.  First off as peeling them, which was a slight challenge since they were not fresh and I realized I didn’t have a peeler here in the new place.   Therefore knife skills were very much-needed.  After peeling, I cut them into pieces averaging about an inch and half as much as possible.

To keep them from browning (due to oxidation), I soaked them in a bowl of water with a splash of lemon juice.  Plus I figured since I was going to parboil anyways, a little soak wouldn’t hurt either.  This next part gets a little tricky.  Looking back and reviewing the recipe now I realize that I most likely didn’t do a couple of things.  1) I didn’t cut these into ‘slices’ but chunks…which will explain something later on.  2) I didn’t pay close attention to the water situation when parboiling.  Notably the blog author states to not cook through all the way.  However since mine were on the dry side, I wasn’t really sure how to tell when they were done.  And yes I know I could have just pulled a couple and tested them but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time.  I was busy making the seasoning mix…lol.

Now the blog recipe I was using called for these ingredients: light brown sugar, kosher salt, ground cumin, New Mexico chili powder, smoked sweet paprika, onion powder, chipotle chili powder, granulated garlic.  Out of the bunch, I didn’t have the ‘new mexico’ chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic.

Instead I decided to use these ingredients; it’s called a kitchen experiment for a reason kids.  ;)  In this case I used:

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tandoori Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika

I measured and mixed them together while the sweet potatoes were on the stove.  Now I swore when I read the original post that somewhere there was a comment about putting vanilla in the water to infuse the sweet potatoes with flavoring which I was intrigued by immediately.  However when I got around to making this some time later, I remembered something I could not for the life of me find in the recipe.  To be safe, I skipped doing so but still might try it out in the future.

After the chunks were parboiled, most likely cooked all the way through, I removed them let them sit on a cooling rack to come to room temperature and dry out a little bit from their water bath.  Then comes the kind of fun but tedious part of smashing.  Now the blog notably said that they used a clear bowl so they could see what was happening which was a huge help.  However this is where the cutting them into chunks came back to haunt me.  If I had simply cut them into slices/discs, then smashing might have gone a little easier.  Oh and par-cooking too would have probably helped…lol.

After smashing them down and assembling into a cake pan (because I don’t have metal cookie sheets in the new place yet), I also mixed together two tablespoons melted butter and two tablespoons olive oil to baste each smashed piece.  This gives the seasoning mix that gets sprinkled over top a place to adhere in the baking process.  While this part was going on, I preheated the oven to 375º and then baked them for about 15 minutes.  Turning them over was a tedious and trying since they were soft from over cooking but I made it work.  Then drizzle the oil/butter mixture over the pieces again followed by sprinkling the rest of the seasoning mix on the now upright/blank sides.  I let them bake in the over for about another 12 minutes (blog said 10 minutes but I was going for a little more firmness).

I agree with the author’s comment that using fresh from the beginning would probably be easier.  The real difference would be to pull the slices from the oven once par-baked for smashing and then the rest stays the same.

However, in the end I do have to say that they came out pretty good overall.  And I know for certain I would prefer these over your basic casserole, mash or baked pieces.  The spice mix gives them a little something different and breaks away from the “honey, butter, marshmallow” toppings.  Each one gets a little crust from the brown sugar and spices caramelizing.  I think the experiment was a partial success; some lessons learned but this one is a definite repeater for the future.

All that said, don’t be afraid to get in the kitchen and learn how to make food you love because we should all eat what we love, not what someone else thinks we should love.  :)

P.S.

Here’s the full recipe based on what I did in case you want to experiment yourself.

Seasoned Sweet Potato Smashers

Ingredients:

  • 3 decent sized Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tandoori Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into slices approximately 1 and 1/2 inches thick.  If using older sweet potatoes, par boil on the stop in a pot of water for roughly 10 minutes from start of turning on the heat (not from boil).  If using fresh, skip the parboil and move to the next step.
  3. Mix together the dry spices and brown sugar, making sure the mix is a good blend when finished.
  4. Mix together the melted butter and olive oil in a separate small bowl.
  5. Using a bowl, preferably clear, lightly press down on each slice placed on a wax paper sheet.  Slices will probably stick to the bowl, so use a spatula to remove from the bottom of the bowl and hand form back into circles.  Spraying the bottom of the bowl with cooking spray or coating with a very thing smear of fat (shortening, lard etc) could also help most likely.
  6. Place the smashed slices on a cookie sheet giving a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of minimum space between each piece. (spacing makes it easier to flip over later)
  7. Lightly brush or drizzle the oil/butter mixture over each piece; don’t drown, just get them moist.
  8. Using your fingers, place pinches of the spice/seasoning mix on each smashed slice.
  9. When all the pieces are covered, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the pan from the over, flip over all the slices, drizzle with liquid and season just like before with the first side.  Place the cookie sheet back in the over for anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes; watch for browning and to avoid potential burning.
  11. After baking the second side, let rest for a couple of minutes to allow cooling and then plate as desired and enjoy!
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