Take stairs for example. Stairs are a relatively innocent thing. You face one direction and they go up. You face the opposite direction and they go down. In such modern times as these are, they typically go up and down at the same rate.
Unfortunately, I’m sure the bottom step at my house is just a ¼-inch longer than it should be. I haven’t measured it yet, but it’s the only explanation for catching my toe, rolling over my ankle and landing face first in a pile by the front door.
At least, that’s the explanation I keep telling myself every time I re-wrap my black and yellow ankle.
As luck would have it, I went down with a sprain as Garrett went down with a cold. It was a one-two punch combo that left us both on separate couches – in separate places – for most of the week. I moved between wrapping my foot in ice packs and elevating. He filled grocery bags with used Kleenex. We both ate soup. I worked. He slept. We exchanged the occasional random text.
Like I said, it was a strange week. And when you have such a strange week, it calls for a bit leniency in the food department. It calls for fridge-miss-mash meals (aka stir fries).
Because the girl on one foot didn’t need to hobble around making soup from scratch and the boy with a toxic cough definitely needed to stay out of the kitchen.
However, the weekend passed without us trading illnesses or injuries. (Knock on wood.) So in honor of a less-runny nose and not-quite-so-tender ankle, I decided we needed a treat. I wanted the kind of treat that was sweet enough to feel indulgent and healthy enough not to make me feel guilty for skipping the gym. Twice-baked sweet potatoes fit the bill nicely.
This recipe is inspired by one that appeared in last November’s Cook’s Illustrated, a version from Bon Appétit, and a rendition featured on Huffington Post. They’re all the same really, a mashed up combo of pulpy sweetness and your choice of fixings. What follows is my favorite combination.
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6 (+1 leftover)
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 10 ounces each), unpeeled and lightly pricked with a fork in three places
1 pound bacon
3 onions, finely chopped
6 ounces Parmesan, shredded
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes for 1 hour. The skin should be firm to the touch, while the insides will be clearly pliable.
Note: Avoid a messy oven by placing a rimmed baking sheet beneath the potatoes.
While potatoes are baking, cook bacon until crisp in a fry pan, reserving the fat. Set aside to cool.
Caramelize the onions in the bacon fat.
Note: To caramelize onions, cook them over low heat, stirring frequently. The onions will reduce to at least a quarter of their size, taking on a rich rust color and a distinct sweetness. Typically, you would add salt when caramelizing onions, but here the residual salt from the bacon fat works perfectly.
Roughly chop four strips of the cooked bacon. In a food processor, pulse the four chopped strips and 3 ounces of the Parmesan into a mixture resembling breadcrumbs (10 – 12 pulses).
Finely chop remaining bacon and set aside.
Remove sweet potatoes from the oven. Leave oven at 375.
Slice each sweet potato in half. Holding half a potato in a potholder, carefully scoop out the flesh, being careful not to poke through the skin. Repeat with remaining potato halves.
In a stand mixer, mix sweet potato flesh on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream and continue to mix until incorporated. Add caramelized onions and finely chopped bacon and mix until fully incorporated.
Select the best seven halves of skin. Fill them with the sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle each stuffed potato with the Parmesan-bacon crumble.
Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange sweet potatoes evenly on top. Bake for 35 minutes or until the toppings begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes before serving.