Mashed Sweet Potatoes W/Orange

Orange Mashed Sweet PotatoesGreetings friends!  Just stopping in quick during my vacation to post one of my favorite summer side dishes.

Seeing as how I now live in the south on the east coast, you would think that sweet potatoes would be everywhere, right?  At least that is what I expected.  Remember that friend I mentioned that introduced me to sweet potatoes?  She would return from trips home to Mississippi with paper grocery sacks full of these wonderful vegetables purchased right from the side of the road.  Naturally, I assumed that when I moved south I would encounter these sweet orange tubers everywhere.  Would people toss them through my open windows when I went through the drive-thru at Chic-Fil-A?  Is there such an abundance of them that they give them away at the DMV?  Could I expect piles of them discarded in the far corners of parking lots?

Apparently, no.  I have yet to encounter any sweet potato vendors, solicitors, or peddlers in South Carolina.  There have been several other food surprises, but those will have to wait for another day as there is way too much to tell.  In the meantime, I plan to continue to purchase my sweet potatoes, or yams, at the regular market.  But you can bet your buttons that the first time I see a dusty farmer on the side of the road with paper bags full of sweet potatoes, my breaks will be squealing.  Because, by golly, I break for sweet potatoes*.  Even if they do give them away at the DMV.

**Wouldn’t that be a great bumper sticker?
Orange Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet Potatoes W/Orange
What makes this dish so lovely is not just the simplicity of it, but that the ingredients taste so darn awesome together you would swear that they were made for each other.  I generally keep them on the healthier side and stick to the recipe below, but as you can imagine, a big ol hunk of butter swirled in makes you want to swoon.  It is so unbelievably fantastic (without butter) as a light side dish for the holidays, I implore you to remember this when November rolls around.  The fact that it goes so well with grilled or roasted food makes this a year round staple.

3-4 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
zest of 1 large orange
juice of 1 large orange
large pinch of salt and lots of fresh ground pepper

Steam the chunked sweet potatoes until very soft.  Alternatively, you can boil them, but I find when I steam them the end result is less watery.  With a potato masher or large fork, hand mash the potatoes until desired smoothness.  I prefer it with consistently tiny chunks but no big bites.  Add the zest and juice of the orange, salt and pepper, and taste for flavor.  Be generous with the black pepper!  If the mash is too thick, add a small splash of hot water, chicken broth, or if you have it, more orange juice.  Enjoy!