Whats not to love about a food that counts as a vegetable but tastes like a treat? Even without the sweetness of added toppings, I love me some sweet potatoes! But then you go and add a pat of butter, spoonfull of brown sugar, and sprinkling of marshmallows (cooked until puffed up and toasted(, and I’m in heaven.
The response to the photo of my baked sweet potato sitting next to my slow cooker turkey breast was overhwleming. I got emails, comments on facebook, and even had someone stop me in a store to say “Baked sweet potaots for Thanksgiving! Why didn’t I think of that?” So I thought I’d hurry on up and get this post up to show you how truly simple it is to bake the perfect sweet potatoes.
Now I’m not saying you ‘ve been baking them wrong. There are countless ways to bake a potato and I don’t consider any of them wrong. But I wanted to show you a foolproof way to bake a sweet potaot that was perfectly done, soft, tender, and could fluff up well, without being overdone like they are sometimes prone to be when you order them in restaurants and such.
Start with a sweet potato. I prefer the rounder ones that fill up my palm like this. Sometimes, though, all you can find are the skinny ones and if that is what you have, they’ll do just fine.
Some people (and stores) refer to these as yams, which is an entirely different vegetable altogether. You’d be hard pressed to find a true yam in the United States. Yams are from Africa and can grow up to three feet in length. They aren’t even related to the sweet potato but when Africans arrived in the American South and saw the sweet potato could be cooked in the same manner as they cooked yams, that is what they began calling it, which makes perfect sense, and this caught on.
Why do I call it a sweet potato? Well, for two reasons. 1. That’s what it is. 2. That is what my mother called it.
Having said that, though, if you grew up calling them yams, keep on doing your thing. I asked this sweet potato in the photo if it minded being called a yam and it just sat there, not moving an inch. It doesn’t care. Call it what you want. This is not going to affect the state of the world.
Place sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet.
You can skip the aluminum foil if you want but it will mean some cleanup later as sweet potatoes often weep a sticky liquid onto your baking sheet while cooking.
Now for the baking part:
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.
Reduce oven to 350 and bake an additional 60 minutes.
Although I am baking just two, your cooking time doesn’t change if you add more potatoes.
These are our done potatoes.
As you can see one of them weeped, the other did not. This wasn’t a result of not poking holes in them or anything, it is just the luck of the draw.
But if you prefer to poke holes in it, you can! No worries! If you prefer to coat them in oil, you can! No worries! If you prefer to wrap the potaotes in foil, go for it!
Free country and YOU get to set the rules and guidelines on how things are done in your own kitchen. I’m just showing you how I do a few things in mine in hopes of inspiring you or giving you some nifty new ideas
Slice each one open at the top. I just use a butter knife or whatever I grab first.
They are soft at this point so it really doesn’t matter.
Then, and this is the fun part…use a dish towel so you don’t burn yourself or cover your hand with an oven mitt and grab hold of the sweet potato and push both of the ends together towards the center, that causes it to open up like this. Ain’t that purty?
Add butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon according to taste. I do about a tablespoon of butter, tablespoon of brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon in each one.
Now they are ready to serve UNLESS You want to top them with toasted marshmallow goodness!
You know you wanna…
(or at least I want you to)
Top with mini marshmallows.
Return to oven until marshmallows are toasted.
To brown them faster: I just turn the broiler on low and keep a close eye on it. If you’ve never cooked anything under your broiler you need to know that it can go from just fine to burned beyond recognition in a matter of minutes so stay right there and keep an eyeball on it. My mother usually cracks her oven door open a little and watches. I sing Modern Major General a few times and check after each round until it is done. If you know all the words and sing fast, it will be about two songs…
Voila! Our perfect baked sweet potatoes!
These make a great simple Thanksgiving side dish but I like them any time I can get them!
If you’d like a simple turkey breast recipe that you can cook in your slow cooker to go with this, click here.