Vail Seasonal: Welcome Thanksgiving with sweet potatoes |

Vail Seasonal: Welcome Thanksgiving with sweet potatoes

Sue Barham
Simply Seasonal
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyVail Seasonal: Sweet potatoes make a great side dish for the holidays.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Hosting Thanksgiving this year in the Vail Valley? Or are you lucky enough to have been invited to a friend’s home for the holiday dinner? Either way, a side dish or dessert made with sweet potatoes is a welcome addition to the meal.

Despite its name, the sweet potato is not related to the potato. And though sweet potatoes and yams have similar flavors and are in the same family, they are actually separate veggies.

A true yam is a root that weighs over 100 pounds. Sweet potatoes have two main varieties: The orange-fleshed variety (often referred to as yams) is the most common, and is moist and sweet. The yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes are drier and tend to be more starchy.

For the most nutritional value, choose the sweet potatoes with a deep orange color. They are packed with beta carotene (vitamin A) as well as vitamin C. Anti-oxidant rich, sweet potatoes build your immune system. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium and iron.

“You don’t have to tell everyone at Thanksgiving dinner how healthy they are,” said Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale. “After all, we look forward to this holiday as a day of indulgence. Sweet potatoes lend themselves to all the spices we associate with this time of year – cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger. By using these flavors, sweet potatoes take on a rich quality.”

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Mark Metzger, pastry chef at Larkspur Restaurant offers his take on a southern tradition. “Instead of pumpkin pie, try using mashed sweet potatoes. This recipe is super easy and laced with bourbon to be even more festive.”

Both chefs recommend sweet potatoes as a winter staple, not just for the holidays. Jeremy shares a recipe for gnocchi, saying “Invest some time and make a large batch. That way, you can freeze some for another meal in the future, and the work is already done.”

3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons half-and-half

Place sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Gently boil until potatoes are tender. Drain sweet potatoes and peel. Mash potato pulp with salt, butter, and maple syrup to desired consistency. Fold in cinnamon and half-and-half. Serves 6 – 8.

2 medium sweet potatoes

ice water

oil for deep frying


Peel potatoes; cut in half lengthwise then slice very thin with a mandoline, the slicer attachment of food processor, or a sharp knife. Place slices in a medium bowl and cover with ice water; chill for 1 hour.

Lift from water and drain on paper towels. Heat oil to about 375° in deep fryer. (Or use a deep skillet on the stovetop, filled about 1 inch deep with the oil). Fry potato slices in one-layer batches for a minute or two, or until golden brown. Lift chips out with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle sweet potato chips with salt before serving.

2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes)

1-1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup softened butter

3 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup bourbon whiskey

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake or boil the unpeeled sweet potatoes until tender. Peel the sweet potatoes, and mash until smooth. Measure 2 cups of the mashed sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl. Stir in all remaining ingredients, combining well. Reserve any additional sweet potatoes for another use. Pour filling into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell, and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350°F, and bake for an additional 1 hour and 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

2 large sweet potatoes

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Bake sweet potatoes for 30 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the peels, and mash them. Blend in the garlic, salt, nutmeg, and egg. Mix in the flour a little at a time until you have soft dough. Use more or less flour as needed. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. While you wait for the water, make the gnocchi. On a floured surface, roll the dough out in several long snakes, and cut into 1-inch sections. Drop the pieces into the boiling water, and allow them to cook until they float to the surface. Remove the floating pieces with a slotted spoon, and keep warm in a serving dish. Serve with butter or cream sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.

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