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ANCHO SWEET-POTATO PURÉE

Ancho chilesAncho chiles, literally "wide" chiles, are the dried form of poblano peppers. They measure about 10 cm long and 4 cm wide. A deep brown color, ancho chiles will turn a brick red after soaking; they vary in hotness from mild to moderate, and have a slightly bittersweet taste.

They add the needed pizzazz to the sweet potatoes as well as enhancing the color to a rich orange-red.

The ingredients:

  • 5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
  • 3 or 4 dried ancho chiles (about 1½ ounces)
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with foil.

Prick the sweet potatoes in several places with a fork and bake on the baking sheet in the middle of oven until tender, about 1 hour. Cool potatoes until they can be handled.

While the potatoes are baking, stem and seed the dried chiles. In a small saucepan, bring chiles and cream to a boil, then let sit, covered, for about a half hour. Break open the chiles and, using a soup spoon, scrape out the inside flesh which should have puffed up and become a nice red color. Note: Be certain to discard the tough outer skin of the chiles, then purée the red chile flesh with the cream until smooth using a hand held blender.

Scoop the flesh from potatoes into a sauce pan, discarding skins, and mash with a potato masher. Then purée with the cream-chile mixture, salt, and butter using a mixer. Add more cream and butter if needed. Purée may be made up to this point one day ahead, refigerated.

Adapted from Gourmet (November 1998)

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