Mom emailed from Florida this weekend (an email from an 88-year-old woman is notable in itself) telling me she’d made my sweet potatoes. This is a standard side dish for our Christmas dinners on Anna Maria Island, because it takes very little preparation. It also goes well with whatever else one serves, be it fish, lamb or duck. If you grew up in the center part of this country sometime in the last century, you were probably subjected to sweet potatoes with marshmallows. This is nearly its opposite, but is still deliciously (and subtly) sweet. And, as is so often the case, it all comes down to initial preparation and a very few ingredients. This is one of the dishes I introduced this season at Grey Duck Landing.
Roast sweet potatoes in a 400-degree oven until blistered and starting to ooze. This takes over an hour, but caramelizes the sugar in the sweet potatoes. The oozing is a signal they are ready. It also can make quite a mess, so I put them on a top rack, with a baking sheet on a lower rack. Remove from the oven and cool a bit. Peel (the skins will just slip off) and whip. Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste. From that point on, you can get a bit creative, adding a bit of orange juice, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, or whatever your heart desires (even curry). But this dish definitely does not need sugar or any other sweetener. Can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave just before serving.