If any vegetable could be called the ‘staff of life’ down our way, the sweet potato would rank right up there.  Since the mid-1800s it’s been a mainstay of both hearth and home and the farm economy.  Delicious, nutritious, stores well, easy to grow, easy to cook—side dish, dessert or sometimes both—plain or fancy, always dependable.  Red and orange flesh varieties are the most familiar, but white and purple types have their fans.  Hayman potatoes, a West Indian import and local specialty for over a hundred years, have pale flesh that turns light yellow when cooked—with a rich, sweet flavor. 

But it’s the orange/red types that figure in most Southern recipes.  In spite of the rich flavor of the potato, many cooks add sometimes extraordinary amounts of sweeteners in traditional recipes.  Here’s one, cobbled together from old favorites, that embraces the traditional fall crops of sweet potatoes, pecans, bacon and just a little extra sweetness—for a not too sweet, a little salty, spicy, crunchy side that goes with almost everything.  Serves 4.

  • 2 good sized sweet potatoes—peeled, cut in bite-sized pcs
  • 3-4 bacon slices—partially cooked
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tblsp oil
  • Warm spices to taste: allspice, nutmeg, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, cinnamon
  • Sea salt and pepper

While preparing potatoes, put bacon in foil lined pan and put in pre-heated 400’ oven for about 10 min—render fat and partially cook.  Mix spices and salt and pepper to taste in small dish.  Spread oil in 13” X 9” baking dish, and coat cut potatoes.  Add maple syrup, sprinkle spice blend over potatoes and mix thoroughly.  Remove bacon from oven to cool—then roast potatoes for 15 min.  Remove potatoes from oven, add cut up bacon and pecans—stir well and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.

The Kitchen Hive

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