Smothered sweet potatoes bring a unique twist to a traditional holiday ingredient.
Sweet potato perfection
Louisiana is known for having the very best sweet potatoes available. A combination of soil, environment, and good ole Cajun know how has helped to produce sweet potato varieties of the highest quality.
Growth throughout Louisiana, sweet potatoes are harvested in the fall placing them at their peak of freshness for holiday meals. Sweet potato producers also kiln dry the sugary roots to prevent spoilage and give them an extended shelf life. Kept in a cool, dry place sweet potatoes can last up to a month.
Smothered sweet potatoes
This dish treats some fresh, local sweet potatoes like our traditional smothered red (Irish) potato dish. The sweetness from the potatoes is balanced with the richness from the fat of the sausage, and the spiciness of the seasonings used.
Smothering is a very traditional Cajun cooking technique where meats, starches, or vegetables (and sometimes a combination of the three) are browned and cooked very slowly in a wet environment.
I was somewhat worried about how the sweet potatoes would behave while being smothered as a red potato and a sweet potato have nothing to do with each other botanically speaking, and sweet potatoes can get stringy when cooked.
As it turns out I had nothing to worry about. The cooking characteristics of the sweet potato and the red potato are the same.
Sweet potatoes on your holiday table
Traditionally sweet potatoes are poured out from a can, baked with copious amounts of brown sugar and marshmallows, served dripping in syrup. To me this covers the natural sweetness and flavor of the sweet potato, and not using fresh sweet potatoes in South Louisiana is considered a crime…or at least is should be.
This recipe combines a traditional Cajun ingredient with a traditional Cajun cooking technique to produce a completely unique dish that will surely be a new favorite on your holiday table.
Yield: Serves 6-8
- 1lb. Smoked sausage (locally made, sliced)
- 3lbs. Louisiana sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
- 1lg. White onion (chopped)
- 3-4cloves Fresh garlic (chopped)
- 1lg. Bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
- 1qt. Water
- Kosher salt, All-purpose seasoning, and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Place a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the sausage.
Cook the sausage stirring frequently for 7-10 minutes or until browned.
Remove sausage from the pot, add potatoes, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add 1C of water and scrape the bottom of the pot.
Add onions, bell peppers, garlic, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover.
Note: As the potatoes start to soften they will stick. While this is desirable for browning, frequent stirring and scraping is required to avoid burning.
Continue to cook, stir, scrape, and add water until the potatoes are very soft and thick, about 30-45 minutes.
Note: The water is used to keep the potatoes from burning, and to make a very thick gravy. Use water as needed, but not so much as to make the dish liquid.
Add the sausage, stir, and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the dry seasonings a little at a time, and taste until desired level is reached.