Sweet Potatoes

At Piedmont Biofarm, we pride ourselves in the prolific nature of the
sweet potatoes we grow. We grow no fewer than five varieties, each
exhibiting its own unique character, whether it be sweetness level,
texture, or starch content. Sweet potatoes are one of my absolute
favorite items to work with. I recall being asked a while back what I
would like to take with me to a desert island if I had to choose one
vegetable, and without hesitation chose the sweet potato. It is
versatile beyond belief, can make its way into most dishes without
causing too much controversy, and possesses myriad health benefits
while maintaining a distinct earthbound sweetness. I always try to use
the whole potato, the skin tastes lovely and adds depth to the root in
its mashed form. Here is a very simple recipe for sweet potato
pancakes, born out of a desire to achieve something elevated while not
requiring any additional effort beyond assembling a few common
household ingredients. 

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 pound sweet potatoes
¼ cup molasses
3 eggs
salt to taste
¼ cup potato starch

NOTE: you could use flour instead of potato starch if it is easier to
access, but my desire here is to eliminate the toughness of normal
flour when it is overworked due to its gluten content. Either way is
fine, and I encourage experimentation. The
merits of a gluten free product is that it is made available to more
folks and their respective dietary needs, which I really like.

Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake at 400 until the potato is
just becoming tender. If you cook it into pulp, this is ok, you are
simply missing out on the textural variedness that comes from a
perfectly cooked sweet potato. When cooled, peel off the skin, reserving
it, and roughly mash the potato with a fork, maintaining some of the
lumps. These will caramelize in the pan and add a great deal to the
finished product. Beat the eggs, and add the starch and molasses to
form a wet mix that you then add to the mashed potatoes. Bring every
thing together with a wooden spoon or a gloved hand, whichever you
prefer.

To cook you will need:
Skillet, cast iron or electric
Your favorite grease (butter, duck fat, vegetable oil, olive oil, etc.)

Heat your pan of choice to medium, making sure to wait until it is hot
to add fat. This ensures that the fat will not become gummy and burn.
When the fat is evenly distributed in the pan, form your fritters and
add to the pan. The pancakes have much more sweet potato in them than
starch, and will not bind as quickly as traditional pancakes. This
means you must cook them slowly so that the binding agents (egg and
potato starch) cook through while avoiding burning the exterior. I
recommend flipping them more often than traditional pancakes to
achieve this. Once you feel you’ve cooked the pancake through (it
should be firm and easy to move around without warping and have a dark
exterior) remove and serve with butter and jams of all sorts. As long
as your fat hasn’t burned, if the pancake takes on a very dark color
it should not taste burned, the sugars in the potato and molasses
alike lend themselves to this deep level of caramelization, and in my
opinion taste wonderful in this state.

Storage Practice

At the farm, we store our sweet potatoes at around 55 degrees, which is not necessarily easy to achieve at home. During the colder months, you'll find that they store perfecting well at room temperature on your kitchen counter. As long as they don't get too moist, they should keep well for three to four months, though hopefully you'll move through them much quicker.