Food & Wine (November 2010)
We've been moaning about how so many of this year's Thanksgiving options seemed safe and kind of middle-of-the-road. Which is why we were especially happy to see Food & Wine's East by Northeast feature, which incorporates Asian influences into traditional Thanksgiving dishes. (It's the same feature that gave us that Edamame, Celery and Fennel Salad with Candied Lemon.)
One of our favorite ways to update a recipe is to take a familiar dish and twist it by adding one unusual element or unexpected ingredient. And that's just what Food & Wine does with these Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Five-Spice Marshmallows.
It's a pretty straightforward sweet potato mash, but adding Chinese five-spice powder gives it a completely new spin, and makes for a very exciting addition to a Thanksgiving table.
But there was something incredibly appealing about the idea of adding Chinese five-spice to the mix, so we embraced our inner kids and decided to bring on the marshmallows!
If you're not familiar with Chinese five-spice powder, it's a mix of spices (guess how many!), popular in Asian cuisine, that's supposed to hit all five flavors on your taste buds: sweet, spicy, sour, salty and bitter. The actual blend of spices can vary, but usually includes cinnamon, anise, cloves, fennel and hot pepper.
Just to be uber-obnoxious, we decided to make our marshmallows from scratch. We've done that once before, for the Hot Chocolate Cake we made last Christmas. If you have an electric stand mixer, it's actually very simple.
In this case, though, making our own marshmallows was a completely wasted effort. By the time the dish came out of the oven, the marshmallows had (of course) baked into a single gooey layer. You literally couldn't tell they weren't store-bought. So, while making your own marshmallows can be a hoot, it's a total time-waster for this particular recipe.
Anyway, the final product was a stunner. The five-spice powder gives the sweet potatoes an astoundingly complex, deep flavor. It takes a standard Thanksgiving side dish and really makes it new and exciting. We loved it!
And if you promise not to tell anyone, we just might be converts on the marshmallows...
ACTIVE: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS
5 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 10 1/2-ounce bag mini marshmallows (6 cups)
3/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
Preheat the oven to 425°. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 45 minutes, until tender when pierced; let cool slightly. Halve the sweet potatoes and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Add the milk, butter and brown sugar and coarsely mash. Season the sweet potatoes with salt and black pepper and spread them in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.
In a medium bowl, toss the marshmallows with the five-spice powder until coated. Scatter the marshmallows over the sweet potatoes and bake for about 45 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are hot and the marshmallows are golden and lightly puffed.
The sweet potatoes can be prepared through Step 1 and refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.