Thanksgiving is coming. Really soon. If you are going to cook any part of the meal you ought to be shopping today or very very soon. Two things to add to your list: red curry paste for Fiery Sweet Potatoes (adapted recipe below) for Thanksgiving Day, and tomato paste for Mom's Chicken (or Turkey) Creole when you have lots of leftover turkey and not the slightest interest in turkey-stuffing-cranberry sauce sandwiches.
Lucky me. I read "Show-Off Sides to Rival the Pull of a Drumstick" (NY Times, 11/11/09) which included Fiery Sweet Potatoes, which I have made twice -- just to be sure that they are good enough for my friends on Thursday.
Lucky you. This is ridiculously easy. It spices up or down. It requires three tools: a knife to poke the sweet potatoes; a can opener for the coconut milk (light will do), and a potato masher.
For my taste, I increased the curry paste, added molasses and cayenne, and omitted the added butter and sugar crust at the final baking. For for some milder Minnesota tastes on Thursday, I will back off of the cayenne.
FIERY SWEET POTATOES (adapted from the NY Times)
5 # sweet potatoes
1 c coconut milk (light will do)
1 T red curry paste (Buy a new jar, please. The one in the back of the fridge from an unknown time period won't do.)
1/2 c dark brown sugar (divided)
4 T unsalted butter (divided)
1 t salt
Optional: 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 T molasses, up to 1 T additional curry paste)
1. Poke the potatoes with a knife to prevent explosions in your clean oven, and then bake for an hour in a 375 degree oven until they are soft. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and mash in an oven safe casserole dish.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk, curry paste, 1/4 c sugar, 2 T butter, salt, optional cayenne and molasses. Add this liquid to the potatoes in the casserole dish. Mash.
3. Three choices at this point: (a) mash, microwave for a minute to re-heat and serve; (b) cover and refrigerate up to two days; (c) create a sweet and crusty topping -- see #4.
4. For a sweet & crusty topping: At least 30 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and top with the remaining 2T butter and 1/4 c brown sugar. Broil until brown and crusty. Check every two minutes so that it doesn't burn.
Leftovers: Heat some butter in a small non-stick pan and make a potato cake. Be patient and cook this on medium heat to create a crust. Flip. More patience = yummy crust.