Monday, July 20, 2009

Low Country Sweet Potato Salad

I sometimes enjoy reading and trying reader recipes, and most definitely knew I would like Low Country Sweet Potato Salad submitted to a Cook's Illustrated magazine, Cook's Country, by Veronica Callaghan. I love sweet potatoes, and any time I find recipes for them - especially when they are roasted - I try them. And this recipe has bacon. What more can I say?



The first time I tried this, I used it as a side dish. It made so much that I added the leftovers to tacos, with nice results. This time I made it knowing how much it made, anticipating the tacos that would be made from the leftovers. I had these particular leftovers last night with my friend Elisa, visiting from Boston, in pinto bean tortillas, with scrambled eggs, tomatillo salsa and mango salsa. Queso Fresco would have been a natural fit, but none in the icebox, so thin slices of mozzarella were acceptable. My dimly lit room doesn't do much for showing how good this actually was... We each ate 2 and were full and satisfied.

leftovers, remade.


These tortillas are good freezer staples. I know now that I am good at cooking many things, but nothing in this world will allow me to make tortillas like my Mother. So instead of disappointment to myself, I adopted the art of the corn tortilla. After two years of only corn tortillas, freshly made to order, I got this recipe that R1's Mom gave her for flour based tortillas with beans which are not only healthful, but easy to make, and hard to over work. I also like that I can use any type of bean, and frequently use leftover refried beans or whatever type I happen to have going. I'm going to post the recipe here since I misplaced it recently, and didn't trust my memory so I had to call around the people I knew that had it until I got it again from R1.

(A Note: 15 oz. cans of beans contain only about 9 oz. of actual beans. I know because I bought a can and drained them and weighed them. Since I make my own beans from dried, I usually use about 10-12 oz. for this recipe, with fine results. The important thing is that the "feel" is right to you. Either alter the amount of water or flour depending on your likes, and cook Confidently! I also like to add other spices when adding the flour: coriander, cumin, chile powder, Mexican oregano... whatever you think you would like.)

BLACK BEAN TORTILLAS

(Makes at least 20, depending on your size. Leftovers freeze well for a month or so.)

1 15 oz. can drained black beans (or pintos, kidney, white, etc. see note above)
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup water (more or less)
scant 1/3 cup oil (I usually use about a half of a 1/3 c. measure with fine results.)
salt, 2 or more pinches

In food pro, processes beans until semi-smooth. If you use leftover mashed beans, just whizz them around to break them apart a bit.

Add oil, whizz some more, then add flour and salt. With machine running, add water through the top until the dough looks like dough, taking the top off to check the stickiness if needed. I usually use the whole 2/3 c. of water, and sometimes more depending on the humidity. Try not to over process.

When dough is cohesive enough to handle, turn out onto a board using a bit of flour if needed and lightly knead into a ball. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes - 1 hour. Then pinch off ping pong ball sizes of dough, roll out on a floured board, and cook on a medium hot cast iron pan.

You may lose a few the first time you try, but persevere. I find that I like to add a little extra flour when I form the balls and roll them out, so I don't like to leave the dough too dry before it rests.

As for the potatoes...

LOW COUNTRY SWEET POTATO SALAD
(serves 6-8)

2 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 c. olive oil (you can use a bit less if you like, like I do)
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large shallot, minced (or 1 white onion, chopped to your liking)
1 t. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 T. lemon juice (I just use half a lemon)
1 t. hot sauce of your choosing
2 T. toasted sesame seeds
2 T. or more chopped parsley (or cilantro if you like it better)

Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions, and heat to 375. I like to line 2 sheet pans with foil for easy cleanup, or you can spray or oil 2 sheet pans.

Toss potatoes with 1/4 cup of olive oil, bacon, shallot or onion, cayenne, pinch(es) salt and pepper. Divide between the two pans and roast 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Switch position of the pans at the half way point. Cool potatoes for 20 minutes.

Whisk together lemon juice, hot sauce, and remaining olive oil in small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Transfer potatoes to a large serving bowl, and add dressing. Mix in chopped parsley or cilantro, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve cold or room temp.

When I scrambled the eggs for the tacos last night, I first heated up the pan and refried the potatoes first. Then I added my eggs right to the skillet and scrambled them in with the potatoes. I would venture to say that there is not a bad way to reheat these potatoes, and though I haven't tried it, I think they may caramelize a bit more if you roasted them initially at 400 or even 425 or 450 if you are brave. Next time, my friends. And I'll be sure to let you know.

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