Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce bring smoke and a little heat to this quick, sweet/savory side dish. Sliced scallions add brightness. Recipe below.
I know what you’re thinking. Sweet potatoes? Isn’t Thanksgiving over? But how can you not love a good-for-you root vegetable that actually gets healthier when you add fat to it? According to Whole Foods, “Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes.”
Sweet potatoes aren’t just kinda healthy—they top the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Best 10 Foods list. The Center calls them a “nutritional All-Star—one of the best vegetables you can eat.” They’re rich in antioxidants, which may help prevent cancer. They may fight heart disease too. And asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases related to inflammation. And despite the name, they’re actually low in sugar and can help regulate blood sugar level in diabetics.
They’re also delicious, versatile and easy to work with. Here at Blue Kitchen, we cook with them a lot. We’ve used them in everything from sweet/savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Shallots to Sweet Potato and Pork Pierogi made with wonton wrappers, Sweet Potato Sage Pasta with Chicken and an absolute given at our Thanksgiving table, Marion’s Sweet Potato Vichyssoise. These weeknight-quick, smoky mashed sweet potatoes are destined to become part of the regular rotation here, I think.
The smoke comes from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeño peppers; adobo sauce is a marinade popular throughout Latin America, usually made with chile peppers, garlic, tomatoes, vinegar and a variety of herbs and spices. The chipotle pepper brings the smoke, and the adobo sauce adds a nice tang. Both pack heat, but not a lot.
For this recipe, I used one chopped up pepper and a teaspoon of the adobo sauce with two medium sweet potatoes, about one pound. The resulting taste is nicely smoky, but not overpoweringly so, and the heat sneaks up on you without taking over. This would make a perfect side for grilled or pan seared pork chops. They would also be great with steaks or even roast chicken. I served them with tilapia fillets, cooked as I do them for Tilapia Fish Tacos, but served whole.
Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 pound
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
1 canned chipotle pepper, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can (see Kitchen Notes)
1 scallion, green parts only, sliced (see Kitchen Notes)
Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold, salted water by an inch or so. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the chipotle pepper.
Drain sweet potatoes, add butter and mash with a hand masher. Add chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and mash to combine completely. Can be made ahead up to this point and left covered on the stove while you finish other dishes. Reheat gently before serving. Transfer to a serving dish or divide between two dinner plates. Garnish with sliced scallions and serve immediately.
One pepper? But I bought a whole can! I know. This is typical of most recipes that call for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The thing is, a little of their smokiness goes a long way. Readers over at Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn have a number of suggestions for storing leftover peppers for later use. One blends them with the adobo sauce in a food processor, then freezes the mixture. About a tablespoon equals one pepper, so you just slice off what you need.
Don’t skip the scallion. In researching chipotle mashed potatoes to make this recipe, I found (as Marion did when she was researching shortbread cookie recipes) that there were really only a few variations. One thing I didn’t see anywhere, though, was the addition of sliced scallions as a garnish. I consider this my major contribution to the oeuvre. As Marion long ago discovered with her sweet potato vichyssoise, the green oniony bite of the scallion tops balance the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, pulling them back into side dish territory from dessertland. The also add a pleasant crunch. Chives will also work, but I wouldn’t use chopped onion—that would be overpowering.