Monday, January 30, 2012

sweet potato supper

Sweet potato, I'm a fan.  You're just so tasty.  My Grandmother likes a good sweet potato, and I was recently at a steak restaurant that served my little steak with a side of baked sweet potato.  So, I've just been loving these fluffy, knobbly little spuds lately.  And word on the street is that they're really good for you (perhaps sans that delicious butter and cinnamon sugar).  Tonight, I was making supper out of my sweet potato.  It was a total invention, but turned out so yummy.

 Mmm.  Fluffy, creamy sweet potato piled high with slightly-bitter balsamic roasted radicchio, nutty gruyere, salty proscuitto and  fresh parsley.  What a tasty combination.  I'm always watching the Food Network, and they speak about creating food that combines as many flavors as possible (sweet, salty, acidic etc) and this hits on all of them.

First, you need to bake your potato.  Give it a good prod with a fork (there are urban legends that potatoes baked without doing this explode.  Let's face it, who really wants to put that to the test?).  

Put your sweet spud on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400ºF/204ºC for about an hour.

 In the meantime, you can prep your radicchio. Some of you may have never heard of this little guy.  It's Italian chicory, with a pungent flavor that adds an earthiness to whatever you put it in.  Give it a rinse and chop into bite-sized pieces (removing the extra bitter white core).

Look at my purty fleur de sel!  I found it at a local specialty store.  It's the exact same stuff I bought for my mom when I was in Geneva.  And yes, fancy salt gets me excited, y'all!

Toss on a baking sheet with salt and pepper, evoo and a hearty dash of balsamic vinegar.  The sweetness of the balsamic counteracts the bitterness of the radicchio beautifully.  Roast at 400/204 for 15 minutes, until nearly tender and slightly crispy at the edges.  I actually roasted the radicchio after my potato was done baking, because I spent the potato baking time skyping with delightful Jo in Cambridge.

Here's how it will look when it's done.  I know it looks burnt, but it's not!  It's a deep purple already and the balsamic vinegar caramelizes a bit on it.  Yum yum.  If you find that it's still too bitter for your taste, just add a bit more balsamic vinegar.

 Now, for a salty kick, chop up some pancetta.  Since we're going with an Italian veggie, this bacon is a great choice.  It's unsmoked (but quite salty), and you can get it at the butcher nice and thick and just cube it up.  (You can, of course, just use regular bacon.)

Saute on medium-high until crispy.    

And then drain on a paper towel.  Feel free to nibble on a couple pieces.  It's a Monday, y'all.  You've earned it!

 Chop up some fresh parsley.

Open that brilliant orange potato and smush it a bit (technical term) so it has room for all the goodies.
Pile it high with roasted radicchio, some large grates of nutty gruyere cheese, crispy pancetta and fragrant parsley.  It doesn't need butter or oil at all...just a final drizzle of balsamic vinegar around your plate to dip each bite in will do ya.

Now that's an elegant baked potato.  Balanced, powerful flavors, vibrant colors and pretty healthy, too.  What a way to begin the week.

(Sadly, there was none left for the precious pup once I was done.)

Bon appetit!


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