Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Brulee

For several years now, my family spends Thanksgiving with my parents and brother in Marietta. As much as I’d love to host the family meal for both my parents and Marty’s parents, usually I’m running the Atlanta Marathon (which is now only a half marathon and 5K). The first time that I ever ran this race was in 1997 and one year in the 1999, I ran the half marathon with my dad. I still vividly remember us being able to see the finish line and exclaiming over and over, We are almost there! The truth was that we still had a very long mile to go. Don’t you just hate courses like that? When you can see the finish line but it feels like you aren’t making any progress? Okay, lets get back to cooking and food....
Because I don’t host the meal on Thanksgiving, I do like to make a traditional thanksgiving meal for Marty and Grant the week before. Usually, I roast a turkey breast and serve all the yummy classic side dishes.
Not being raised in the South and by a mother who doesn’t care for sweet potatoes, we always had mashed potatoes with gravy. Mom’s gravy is very dark because she doesn’t use turkey stock or chicken stock at all. She simply uses Wondra flour and water. My favorite part of the mashed potatoes is digging the little whole in the middle for the gravy. It’s funny how we all have our own favorite traditions and with fun details that make this holiday so special. After all, it is all about the food. Oh yah, and giving thanks, too.
So, I decided to try a sweet potato casserole by using one of Gina’s recipes from I like sweet potatoes but adding cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar turned it too much into a dessert for me. I’m glad I tried it, though and it was quite pretty served in a pie dish.
Sweet potatoes are one of the best vegetables that you can eat and really a super food for the runner. They’re loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.  They have a lot of bulk to keep you full for hours and the nutritional profile makes those calories well worth it. It’s a shame that most Americans only eat sweet potatoes around Thanksgiving time. They should be eaten year round.
I halved the recipe since serving sizes are smaller for my family.
3 lbs of sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped and boiled until soft
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 1/2 tbs of Smart Balance butter
1/4 tsp of salt, or to taste
1/8th tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup unpacked light brown sugar
Preheat the broiler in your oven.
Bring a medium size pot to a boil and add the sweet potatoes. When potatoes are cooked and soft, combine them with milk, butter, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Smash or puree. I used a hand mixer but a potato masher works just fine.
Spoon into a pie dish or a dish of similar size that can withstand high heat. Add the brown sugar sprinkled on top. Broil for no more than 5 minutes. Be careful to not burn the sugar.  Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the sugar to harden.

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