Semi-Sweet Potato Mash with Spiced Caramelized Onions
Makes 8 servings
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2 ½ lbs Yukon potatoes, halved
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled
4 – 5 (depending on how prone you are to nibbling) large sweet Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
Sauté the onions over a medium flame, stirring very infrequently. Once they soften and begin to brown on each side, return the flame to low and allow to slowly caramelize. During this time, it is important to make sure the onions are spread as evenly as possible across the pan. Every few minutes, scrape the bottom and redistribute the onions so each gains the maximum amount of surface area. The intention is to slowly crisp the onions by enticing the remaining liquids to sweat out, and for the onions to sweeten by condensing in their own juices. If you stir too often, the onions will turn to mush. This process takes about 40 minutes.
When the onions are dark brown, but not burnt, add the paprika, cumin, and season with salt and cayenne to taste. Set aside.
In the meantime, heat a large pot of water to boil. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them in similar sized chunks to the regular potatoes so they take the same amount of time to cook. Boil the potatoes and drain. Let the regular potatoes sit until cool enough to touch. The skins should come off fairly easily by hand.
When it comes to the mashing, use whatever technique your small kitchen affords you. I find that the best texture is achieved by using a food mill (or mouli, as my mother calls it), or a ricer. Alexis, our holiday party goddess du jour, swore by her hand mixer. I’ve been forced to use a hand masher in the past for a more coarse result, and my mini-prep food processor for a finer, more glutinous puree. More to come on these tools and more in a future post.
Once you’ve mashed your potato mixture, season to taste, adding the chili powder and a dash of cayenne to give it some heat.
TIP: the dish can be made up until this point and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days before serving. To reheat, set the oven to 250 degrees and place the casserole dish inside 30 minutes or so before the meal.