Southwestern Sweet Potato Gratin

April 15, 2009

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There are friends you trust and those you don’t.  There are co-workers you trust and those you don’t.  There are probably even family members you trust and those you don’t.  And for me, there are cookbook authors I trust and those I don’t.  In case you are curious, I trust Deborah Madison, Jeanne Lemlin, Ina Garten, the people at Cook’s Illustrated, and I trust Martha Stewart.

Let me say this, I am not a Martha Stewart kind of gal.  I am not neat, or crafty, and I have never been to jail.  (Both my brothers have though.  Another story for another time.)  But I do love to cook and I very much appreciate a well-written cookbook with well-tested recipes.

There is the theory that, when cooking for guests, you should only make familiar recipes.  Being a personal chef for three years (!) who very rarely repeats menus has forced me to make all kinds of things I have never made before.  Every so often I make something and wonder – is this going to be any good?  If it has come from one of my trusted books, it always is.

Two books I use on a regular basis are the two volumes of The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook.  Some of my favorites have come from these huge tomes.  Everything I have made turns out well.  The recipes are clear and concise and many of them are truly delicious.

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I made this gratin last night for my clients and for my friend John who came to dinner.  When I pulled it out of the oven, I wasn’t sure.  It smelled good and I knew I liked all the ingredients in it, but I just didn’t know how it would come together.  But, because it came from Martha – or from the people who write her cookbooks – I didn’t worry.  And it was delicious – smoky and sweet, cheesy but not too rich, and just a bit of spice.  I served this as a main course with red beans and rice and a citrus salad, but it would be lovely as a side dish as well.

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A few words about the recipe.  The next time I make it (and there will be a next time), I will make three layers instead of two.  This will no doubt require a bit of squishing because the pan was quite full with just two layers, but it bakes down considerably and I would have loved another layer.  Even if you do not like spicy food, do not skip adding the chipotle chile.  Martha says it is optional but I say the smokiness that it lends to the dish is essential and it is not too spicy.  If you like spice, add another one.

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Southwestern Sweet Potato Gratin
Adapted from The New Classics
Serves 8-10 as a side, 4-6 as a main

4 large sweet potatoes (about 4 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1 1/2 cups grated Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese, 6 oz. (DT: I used Monterey Jack)
1 1/2 cups crumbled Cotija or French feta cheese, 6oz. (DT: I used Queso Fresco)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo
1/3 cup vegetable stock, or water
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
Lime wedges, for garnish
Mexican crema or sour cream, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange half of the potatoes in a 9 x 13 baking dish, overlapping the slices.  Sprinkle with half of each cheese.  Top with onion.

2. Stir the chipotle into the stock or water; drizzle over the onion.  Sprinkle with half the cilantro.  Top with the remaining potatoes; sprinkle with the remaining cheeses and cilantro.  Scatter the chips on top.

3. Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes.  (DT: I sprayed my foil with non-stick spray so the cheese wouldn’t stick too much.)  Remove the foil; bake until very tender and top is well browned, about 30 minutes more.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Serve with limes and crema, if desired.



9 Comments »

  1. I’ve been cooking Martha recipes for years, and they always work well for me too. This looks like a great one!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — April 15, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

  2. Mmmmm. This looks fantastic. Love chipotle and can’t wait to make this. Thanks for the recipe and beautiful pictures.

    Comment by Mara — April 15, 2009 @ 8:13 pm

  3. That looks absolutely divine! You are clever and I am jealous of your clients again :)

    Comment by holler — April 15, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

  4. awww, I am a sweet potato fan, this look delicious. I also just made the South Western potato, although mine was way way simpler than yours.
    Cheers,
    elra

    Comment by elra — April 15, 2009 @ 10:40 pm

  5. Umm…. We LOVED it. I am a crazy fan of sweet potatoes and loved the combination in the dish and w/the sides. YUM. :)

    Comment by Jenn — April 16, 2009 @ 7:05 am

  6. Great take on a potato gratin!

    Comment by Kevin — April 17, 2009 @ 1:46 am

  7. Martha’s recipes really are tried and true.
    Especially her baking recipes.
    How come I have never heard of Jeanne Lemin?

    Comment by Stacey Snacks — April 17, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  8. What an interesting recipe! This looks so good to me!

    Comment by Carrie — April 20, 2009 @ 7:23 pm

  9. I missed this post somehow, and just looked it up when another reader commented about it in a recent post. I’m trying this for sure. I love sweet potatoes and can’t miss out on trying this!

    Comment by Deb — November 14, 2009 @ 3:31 am



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