Day three: sweet potato pie

I have to say, I don’t eat sweet potatoes that often, and it’s even rarer that I indulge in  sweet potato pie.  I don’t even recall the last time I had it, if ever!  Before tonight, that is.

But I am definitely adding this recipe into my repertoire.

Sweet potatoes are actually a species of morning glory and are only distantly related to “regular” potatoes.  They are native to South America and were an important component in Native American diets, as well as European settlers.  They are sometimes referred to as yams, perhaps so named by slaves brought to America who recognized its striking resemblance to the similar yet unrelated African tuber.  Their consumption in recent years has declined, but sweet potatoes are a deeply ingrained part of southern American diet and culture. Bill Neal quotes Sir Francis Drake in Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie:

“These potatoes be the most delicate rootes that may be eaten, and doe farre exeed our passeneps or carets.  Their pines be of the bignes of two fists, the outside whereof is the making of a pine-apple, but it is soft like the rinde of a cocomber, and the inside eateth like an apple but is more delicious than any sweet apple sugred.”

Now I am sorry it has taken me so long to appreciate this most delicate roote!

Sweet potatoes are also a bit more healthful than their colorless relatives:  as with any orange-colored vegetable, they are rich in beta-carotene.  Of course, serving them in pie form probably negates their nutritious qualities, but they really lend well to this pie.  With its subtly sweet flavor and meringue-y texture, this recipe is sure to please anyone.

From Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal

Ingredients
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons molasses
1.5 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
2/3 cup half and half
2 eggs, separated
6 tablespoon dry sherry
1 partially baked pie crust (instructions)

Method
Peel, boil and mash sweet potatoes.

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add molasses and sweet potatoes, beat well.

Stir in half and half, egg yolks, and sherry.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and add to mixture.  Pour into partially baked pie shell.

Place in an oven preheated to 425, and immediately reduce heat to 375.

Bake for 35 minutes or so, until center is set and top is slightly browned.

I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this.  I definitely recommend giving it a try!

-R

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