Chile Glazed Yams and Rick Bayless
It’s easy to spend hours reading books by Rick Bayless. Restauranteur author, educator, and host of PBS’s Mexico: One Plate at a Time….needless to say he’s a busy guy. Rick has lived and still spends time in Mexico, and does a respectful job at bringing traditional Mexican fare to the spotlight with a modern interpretation, not to mention the recipes with side notes are both incredible and accessible. His restaurants include the extensive Frontera family of sites, Topolobampo, Red O, Lena Brava, and Cruz Blanca Brewery & Taqueria, to name a few. As aforementioned, a busy guy.
As I look ahead to next year’s catering menus I’m in a phase of reading, pondering, and searching for ways to add to my ‘Offerings’ repertoire and to keep me entertained by trying something new. It’s also a good practice to go through one’s stuff every so often to re-examine why you have it and if it still deserves a spot in one’s life. Lately it’s been food magazines and cookbooks, and Rick has been the highlight of the reading table for a few weeks.
photo by David Cavagnaro
Sweet Potatoes and Ancho Peppers—a little sweet and a little warm—it’s a partnership that cannot go wrong.
These sweet potatoes nesting in the basket are from David Cavagnaro’s garden. There aren’t many people who attempt to grow them this far north, but David is no ordinary person. Check out the Pepperfield Project and their educational programs about living off the land.
Anchos are the dried version of a poblano pepper, great flavor without a lot of heat to burn your tongue. They are one of my favorites to use in sauces and catering because I’m not concerned about serving it to the mild-spiced Midwesterners. It’s a perfect pepper to use in chocolate cake, soaked and pureed then mixed into the batter for a barely discernible but warm and cozy affect.
Orange zest is a perfect addition, a little citrus with a bite. The volatile oils live in the peel and hold the punch-flavor that does not diminish very much with cooking. I love my WMF zester but also use a microplane zester depending on the day.
I was going ‘rustique’ and didn’t puree the anchos, but in the future would probably blend them to give an even glaze.
These sweet potatoes would be delectable served with a turkey or lamb at a Holiday dinner of your choice—the paste can be made a week ahead, and the potatoes can be either assembled ahead or even baked ahead then reheated. It’s handy (and more sane) to have a few versatile dishes in the mix when planning a big meal.
Chile Glazed Yams (Camote Adobado)
Adapted from Rick Bayless’s “Mexican Kitchen”
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes
Cook Time: around 1 hour
Make the “Essential Sweet-and-Spicy Ancho Chile Seasoning Paste”
Roast over medium heat in a heavy skillet:
5 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
Roast until soft, turn occasionally. (My note—I have also used garlic that I roasted in the oven)
While garlic is roasting, toast on the other side of the skillet:
Ancho Chiles—4 large, or 6 medium-small chiles, stemmed and seeded
Open them flat and press down with a spoon or spatula. Roast for 1-2 minutes on each side, until they crackle.
Place Anchos in a bowl with hot water to rehydrate for at least 30 minutes.
Combine in a food processor:
the Ancho Chiles, drained
1/2 cup Chicken Broth or Water
1 teaspoon Oregano, dried, preferably Mexican Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, preferably Mexican Canela
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon Cloves, ground
Process until smooth, scraping and stirring to help the process. Add more water if it won’t blend fully.
Rick calls for straining the sauce in a medium-mesh strainer, but I like all the nibbly bits so I didn’t. Your choice.
Stir into the Chile paste or add to the food processor and pulse-chop to mix:
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1/2 cup Orange Juice
2 Tablespoons Honey
Salt–at least a teaspoon
Taste and adjust as needed–it should be a bit salty because it will be on the sweet potatoes.
Slice into 4 lengthwise wedges:
3 pounds (around 5 medium) Sweet Potatoes, unpeeled
Lay the sweet potatoes into a lightly oiled 13×9 inch baking dish. Slather with the Ancho Seasoning Paste.
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Butter, melted
Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for at least 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Raise temperature to 450 degrees and uncover the potatoes. Baste with juices and bake another 10 minutes until the glaze is medium thick.
Crème fraîche or Sour Cream thinned with milk
“When you possess light within, you see it externally.”
– Anaïs Nin