The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

March 13, 2013

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

Karen's Kitchen
Karen Freeman

TARBORO — I’m sure that I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. I love sweet potatoes. I have very fond memories of eating them as a child. My mother always baked them. We rarely had them any other way. But, they were wonderful. On Thanksgiving, we  always had sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top. I may have to make some when I finish this article!

As an adult, I found that there are hundreds of ways to prepare this healthy and delicious food. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C and E. They are also fat free, high in fiber and low cholesterol. There are so many great sweet potato recipes that it was difficult to decide what to leave out.

North Carolina is the nation’s top producer of sweet potatoes. Since it’s the state vegetable, we should celebrate it and enjoy it. There are sweet potato festivals through out the state in the fall.

The first recipe is simple. Sweet potato chips. Everyone loves potato chips, now try them using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

The second recipe is a stuffed potato with marshmallows and pecans. Just saying that tells you that it will be wonderful and that the kids will love it. Try this instead of the standard sweet potato casserole.

The next recipe is a gratin. The gratin uses sliced sweet potatoes with pineapple. It’s sinfully delicious.

The casserole with pecan topping is one of my personal favorites. I make it each year at thanksgiving. Some years I make it with the pecan topping and some years I put marshmallows on top. You can also add pineapple to this dish if you like it. I usually do.

The last recipe is a frittata. You can use it for breakfast or for dinner. I love having eggs for dinner and when you add this dish to the table, dinner becomes an event.

I hope you enjoy this year’s sweet potato harvest as much as my family will. Send me your best sweet potato recipes for next years’ story.

Sweet Potato Chips

12 Sweet Potatoes 
1 Pint Peanut Oil 
Salt To Taste

Make the sweet potato chips: Peel sweet potato. Using a mandolin or food processor fitted with the 2 millimeter slicing blade, cut into 1/1-6 inch slices, lengthwise.

Heat oil in a large stockpot or saucepan to deep-fry temperature (350 degrees F). Fry sweet potatoes, a handful at a time, until pale golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Reserve a day or two in plastic bags.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan and Marshmallow Streusel

12 Large Sweet Potatoes 
3/4 Cup (1-1/2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature 
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar 
3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour 
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon 
1/4 Teaspoon Salt 
1 Cup Toasted Pecan Pieces 
1 Cup Miniature Marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the sweet potatoes, scrubbing them well to remove any dirt. With a fork, prick the sweet potatoes in a couple of spots and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center goes in easily.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and flour together until it's crumbly-looking. Add the cinnamon, salt, pecans, and marshmallows; fold the streusel topping together to combine.

Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise down the center and push the ends towards the middle so it opens up. Stuff the sweet potatoes generously with the streusel topping and return to the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and brown. 

Sweet Potato Gratin

1 Tablespoon Butter, plus 6 tablespoons, chilled and cut into small cubes 
1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice 
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar 
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger or 1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger 
Pinch Freshly Grated Nutmeg 
Salt & White Pepper 
1 (12-Ounce) Can Crushed Pineapple with juice 
4 Pounds Sweet Potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use one tablespoon of butter to grease a 9 by 13-inch baking or gratin dish. Mix together orange juice, brown sugar, and spices, then add pineapple. Layer slices of sweet potatoes in the dish, then dot with butter. Top with pineapple mixture. Season each layer with salt and pepper. Repeat this process until all sweet potatoes are used up, ending with pineapple mixture.

Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender when a pairing knife is inserted. Baste gratin with excess juices every 10 minutes. The top should be bubbly and brown. If the top gets too brown or starts to burn, cover with aluminum foil and continue cooking until sweet potatoes are done.

Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Topping


3 lb Sweet potatoes

3/4 Cup Orange Juice

2 Large Eggs

2 Tbsp Butter, melted

2 Tbsp Sugar

1 1/2Tsp. Ground Cinnamons

1/2 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg


1/2   Cup All Purpose flour

1/4   Cup (+ 2 tbsp) Golden Brown Sugar, firmly packed

1/2   Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/4   Cup  (1/2 stick) Butter, at room temperature

1/2   Cup Chopped pecans

For sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 350F.  Place 3 pounds sweet potatoes in    baking pan and bake until all potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Maintain oven temperature. Butter 8x8x2" square glass baking dish. Scrap sweet potato pulp from potato skins. Using electric mixer, mash sweet potatoes.

Add orange juice, eggs, melted butter, sugar, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg.    Beat until sweet potatoes are smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon potatoes into prepared baking dish. FOR TOPPING: Combine flour, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in medium bowl. Add butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Mix in chopped pecans. Sprinkle pecan mixture on top and bake for 45-60 minutes.

North Carolina Sweet Potato Frittata


1 Medium Sweet Potato

1 Sweet, Mild Onion, Such As Maui Or Vadalia

1 Green Bell Pepper

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

3/4 Cup Sliced, Julienned Country Ham

1 Tablespoon Butter

6 Eggs

Salt And Pepper To Taste



Peel sweet potato; cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Blanch sweet potato cubes in boiling, salted water until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside. Chop onion and green pepper. Heat oil in omelet pan; sauté onion and bell pepper tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in cooked sweet potatoes and ham. Sauté 1 minute. Add butter to omelet pan. Beat eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour eggs into omelet pan and stir with a fork. Cover pan and cook about 3 minutes to set egg. Uncover and place pan under hot broiler until top of frittata is firm, about 1 minute. Loosen with a rubber spatula and slide onto serving plate. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Did you know?

One cup of cooked Sweet Potatoes provides 30 mg (50,000 IU) of beta carotene (Vitamin A). It would take 23 cups of broccoli to provide the same amount.

Sweet Potatoes have four times the US Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) for beta-carotene when eaten with the skin on.

Sweet Potatoes are a great source of vitamin E, and they are virtually fat-free, which makes them a real Vitamin E standout. Most Vitamin E rich foods, such as vegetable oils, nuts and avocados, contain a hefty dose of fat. Just two thirds of a cup of Sweet Potatoes provides 100% of the USRDA for Vitamin E, without the unwanted fat.

Sweet Potatoes provide many other essential nutrients including Vitamin B6, potassium and iron.

Sweet Potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, which helps to promote a healthy digestive tract. Sweet Potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal.

Sweet Potatoes are virtually fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium. A medium Sweet Potato has just 118 calories.