One Potato, Two Potato

For this weekend’s haul at the farmer’s market, beside all the gorgeous broccoli, collards, sweet corn, leeks, cantaloupe, and so on and so forth, I was particularly excited to find Oregon-grown sweet potatoes of both the white and orange-fleshed varieties. I’ve already used up two-thirds of the ones I purchased, employing very different flavor profiles but a similar cooking method for both.

For the first meal, I took inspiration from Latino flavors, now that corn, tomatillos, peppers, and tomatoes are starting to show up at the market. I knew I was going to be roasting a chicken, so I bought a handful of tomatillos and a few rather mild black peppers from Pitchfork and Crow to make a saucy take on salsa verde to accompany it. The sauce I ended up with paired roasted tomatillos with minced and sauteed peppers, garlic, and green onions, reduced together with the pan drippings from the chicken and a splash of cream. My first taste of the sauce was extremely off-putting—almost inedibly sour and bitter; however, I was able to recover it by adding a bit more cream and a hefty squirt of agave syrup to balance out those strong flavors with some sweetness.

As for the sweet potato, I went with the orange-fleshed variety for this meal, first dicing it and sauteing it in a bit of rendered chicken fat to caramelize, then giving it a few minutes to become tender under cover with some chicken stock. I finished the dish with salt, ancho and chipotle powder, drizzles of lime juice and honey, a handful of green onion, and the kernels cut from one ear of sweet corn. I was very happy with the outcome: sweet, tangy, and a little spicy, with soft sweet potato cubes balanced by the crunch of the corn. It played nicely off the juicy roast chicken and tangy tomatillo sauce to boot.

For the other meal, I made a potful of one of our favorite pork dishes, Hawaiian braised pork, which I usually serve over rice. I decided to go out on a limb and make white sweet potatoes instead, similarly sauteed and simmered with broth, but seasoned with butter, Chinese 5-spice, a teaspoon of brown sugar and a splash of mild rice wine vinegar, all of which play off the flavors in the pork. I decided to make an Asian-inspired stir-fry of collard greens and sunflower seeds to go with these two elements, but that was much less successful as the collards remained pretty tough and made me wish for kale or chard instead; not the fault of the greens, but rather the method. In any case, the white sweet potatoes were delicious and only mildly sweet served under the saucy pork—I didn’t miss the rice at all, which is really saying something.

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