Sometimes Linda Maturey, not necessity, is the mother of invention. Recently she was in my kitchen sampling a sweet potato dish which contained Garam Masala. The savory and fragrant tones of the spice mix were causing her to envision the recipe as something grander than just sweet potatoes. And though very simple, these potatoes are very good all by themselves. But she was right. Then she suggested that they would be fantastic with some sort of greens mounded on top, and I have thought of little else since.
During the intervening time I tested a recipe for Edible Dallas & Fort Worth which featured Swiss chard. I am ashamed to say that I had never cooked with Swiss chard prior to that. The red spines of the greens were so beautiful that I wanted to play with them in another context. In my opinion, greens are always better when they’re cooked with a little bit of bacon or salt pork and that is how I arrived at the topping for these sweet potatoes. My sister-in-law, Val, sat in the kitchen and tinkered with this dish and decided that it is delightful.
Garam Masala is a spice blend that contains things like coriander, cumin, cinnamon and cardamom. Since most blends vary somewhat in their pungency and in the amounts of each spice used, I suggest that you start this recipe with one half of a teaspoon and work your way up depending on how you like it.
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (start with ½ tsp and taste)
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 slices of smoked bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 bunches Swiss chard, rinsed and chopped
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Scrub the sweet potatoes and place them on a baking sheet. Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the potato is easily pierced with a fork.
2. When the potatoes have finished cooking set them aside to cool briefly. Cook the bacon in a nonstick skillet until it is crisp. Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan and reserving the bacon pieces. Add the butter to the drippings and allow it to melt. Pile the Swiss chard in the skillet and allow it to wilt stirring the chard from the bottom to the top as you go so that it cooks evenly. The chard should be softened and finished in approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the chard from the heat and add the apple cider vinegar. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and stir to combine.
3. Cut open the sweet potatoes and scoop out the pulp with a spoon. Place the pulp in a mixing bowl and mash it with a potato masher. Add the heavy whipping cream and the Garam Masala and stir to combine.
4. To serve, place a small mound of the greens on top of a similar sized mound of mashed sweet potatoes. Garnish with the reserved crisp bacon pieces.
Exciting PIE News: Wichita Falls friends, I am going to be giving a talk at a February 28th event for the Wichita Falls Symphony League. It is an early evening cocktail and appetizer event and I will get to talk about all of my favorite things like food, especially regional foods. I am so very honored to have been asked, and I can’t wait to see you at home. I hope you consider joining us. I will be serving great appetizers with the help of Bistro Express and giving away a stack of autographed regional cookbooks. Join us if you can!