Holiday Hash

Not too long ago while skittering through Trader Joe’s a container of diced mixed vegetables caught my eye.  I paused just long enough to appreciate what looked to be a colorful collection of perhaps diced sweet potatoes or squash, red onion, maybe herbs…

My glasses were steaming up from my mask, but I think it read “Hash.” I quickly moved on, but this blurry visual stayed with me and continued to stimulate my imagination.

I planned to cook Cornish game hens for Thanksgiving.  I could picture the hen nestled in a bed of hash-like vegetables—further eliminating any trace of traditional stuffing. Since I had white sweet potato on hand I’d make it much like an ordinary stuffing and replace the bread with partially cooked sweet potato.

Hen and Hash

I’d start with a shallot or sweet onion, celery, and a jalapeno pepper for a little bite, plus good quality herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme.  I’d briefly steam the diced sweet potato and toss it in the pan for a quick brown.  Thus, the Holiday Hash was born.

Sweet Potato Hash

The white sweet potato gives much more flavor, food value, and fiber than the usual gooey stuffing—and its slight touch of sweetness goes beautifully with poultry.

Hash and Egg

And yes, this hash is outstanding the next day with eggs.

Sweet Potato Hash

Inspired by Trader Joe’s prepped hash

Ingredients
1 large white sweet potato, peel and cut into ½” dice
⅓ cup water, approx.
2-3 Tbsp butter, divided
1 large shallot or sweet onion, dice
¾ tsp each dried sage and rosemary
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 stalks celery plus leaves, dice
1 large jalapeno, seed and dice
½ tsp each salt and fresh ground black pepper
¾ tsp paprika

Instructions

  1. Place diced sweet potato in ovenproof bowl, add water to cover bottom of bowl; cover and bake in microwave 2½ – 3 minutes, until the sweet potato begins to soften. Drain well.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium heat melt 1 Tbsp butter, add the shallot or onion and the dried herbs; cook to soften, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining vegetables, a bit more butter if necessary, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until vegetables begin to soften, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Increase heat slightly, add a bit more butter and the steamed sweet potato. Season with paprika, a bit more salt and pepper. Cook, loosen and turn with a spatula until the potato begins to take on color and brown on edges, 4-5 minutes. Serve or set aside for later use reheated. Serves 3-4

Sweet Potatoes à la carte

It’s unlikely they will ever truly replace good old reliable potatoes, but sweet potatoes have really hit main stream. Everyone is getting on board, trying to give them a chance, and I couldn’t be happier. From French fries to pancakes, they are everywhere.

There’s no question, a nutrient-rich baked sweet potato is incredibly filling and satisfying in a pinch. I’m known to pop one in the microwave for a fast meal and top it with whatever is loose in the fridge, from chutney to chili.

Of late, one of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes is in latkes.  Add a little onion, some binder, and they are worthy of a place at either the breakfast or dinner table. In mini portions, they make a handsome appetizer with a dab of sour cream and chives.

Unlike potatoes that turn color when prepped ahead, sweet potatoes grated a day in advance will still hold beautifully. With the holidays headed our way, consider latkes as part of your party entertainment fare.

Sweet Potato Latkes
Inspired by Gale Gand’s Brunch!

Ingredients
1/2 yellow onion
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled (3 to 4)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and black pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 bunch green onions or chives, sliced

Instructions

1. Grate the onion with a box grater into a mesh strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

2. Either grate the potatoes on a box grater or use a food processor.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, onion, flour and eggs until well combined. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Make little balls and flatten them into about a 3 inch disc.

4. Pour about 1/4 cup oil into a skillet and heat over medium high heat. Put a few latkes in a pan at a time, press down firmly with a spatula, and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Move to paper toweling to drain and hold in a warm oven.

5. Top each with a small dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chives. Makes 8 large or about 36 mini-latkes.

Spotlight on Sprouts: Better with Bacon

Brussels sprouts may not be one of our most exciting vegetables but they actually dress up quite nicely and hold surprisingly well. Sprouts’ deep green color and mild sweetness make them a welcome addition to a holiday table—especially one laden with a joyous abundance of rich starches.

Did you know sprouts, or buds, grow on a tall main stem that’s protected by larger green leaves?  Like many of their cabbage cousins they have great holding power and can even be overwintered.  Lacking refrigeration, the entire plant can be buried in hay or a pile of leaves and when the mood strikes pluck off the buds as needed. These days, consider storing your brussels sprouts in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks and just prior to preparation give them a quick wash.roasted-brusssels-sprouts

With so much focus on the meal’s main event, we are all looking for tasty, no fuss vegetables that can pull their own weight. In this solution, an easy oven roast requires little attention and serves to accentuate the brussels sprouts’ inherent sweetness. Top them off with a crowd pleasing duet of caramelized onion and smoky bacon and finish with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a perky sweet and sour lift.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions

Ingredients 
1 pound brussels sprouts, or more, trim and cut in half lengthwise if large
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
3 slices pepper bacon (or more!), cut into strips
1/2 red or sweet onion, peel and slice
1-2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.  Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss the brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally to color on all sides.
  3. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, brown the bacon until crisp, remove and drain on toweling.  Retain enough bacon drippings to coat bottom of pan and add the onion. Sauté the onion until it softens and begins to color. Add the roasted sprouts and heat quickly. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar, top with bacon and onion. Serves 4.