A Southwestern twist on a holiday classic, we think our sweet potato dish beats the heck out of any version topped with mini-marshmallows! The chipotle paste is a great accompaniment that will kick up any side dish (Our kitchen elves like to put them on scrambled eggs and chilaquiles). Just be careful to add the paste in small increments, as it can be very hot. Any extra will keep well in the refrigerator for a few weeks. The slight hint of lime here brightens the dish to keep it from being heavy.
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ cup half and half
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
For the chipotle paste:
1 small can chipotle chiles en adobo
Prepare the chipotle paste:
Remove the whole chiles from the can and chop them finely. Mix them with the remaining adobo sauce and mix well. Set aside.
[Chef’s Note: This will keep for a few weeks if you keep it tightly covered in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The vinegar in the adobo sauce acts as a natural preservative.]
Prepare the sweet potatoes:
Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into evenly-sized cubes. Put the sweet potatoes in a pot and cover completely with cold water. Bring to a boil.
[Chef’s Note: When boiling root vegetables or tubers, it is essential to start them in cold water, so that they cook through without the outside cooking too quickly and getting mushy. A good rule of thumb is that any vegetables grown below the ground should be started in cold water, and any that grow above the ground should be started in hot water.]
Reduce the heat and simmer the sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the water and return the potatoes to pan. Set the pot back on medium-low heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly, to evaporate any remaining water, then remove from the heat. Add some of the half-and-half, the butter, and lime juice, and mash to the desired consistency. Cook over medium heat for another 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Stir in the brown sugar, salt to taste, and ½ tsp. of freshly grated cinnamon into the mashed potato mixture. Add some chipotle paste to the mixture, to taste, and stir thoroughly to blend. Reserve the remaining chipotle paste for another use. Sprinkle the top with another ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon just before service.
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya