I got this recipe from my mom. I’m not sure if she created it, or if it was passed down from her family, but now it is my recipe too! These have always been my favorite sweet potatoes, and a dish I look forward to every holiday meal. The following recipe is specifically from my adventure with the purple sweet potato, so it has a few extra steps. I’ll put the orange sweet potato changes at the bottom of the post.
Brown Sugar Purple Sweet Potatoes
1-2 purple sweet potatoes (enough to have about 4 cups cubed)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter/margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 cup water
deep, straight sided skillet with lid
- Thoroughly wash and peel 1-2 purple sweet potatoes.
- Wrap each potato in its own foil.
- Place the foil pouch directly onto the rack in a 350°F oven. Bake for about an hour (you don’t want to fully cook them, you just want to get them well on their way).
- Remove the foil pouches from the oven and CAREFULLY unwrap them. THEY ARE VERY HOT! Let them cool down enough that you can handle them without burning yourself.
- Cube the potatoes. I cut them into about 1 inch wheels then I cut each wheel into quarters, though I did have to cut a few of the quarters down a little smaller. Whatever size you want the cubes, be sure to get them as close to equal as possible so they cook at about the same rate.
- In the skillet (it can also be a pot or a wok, you just need high sides) melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Once they’ve melted together, add the water and salt and heat thoroughly.
- Add the cubed potatoes to the skillet, and shake cinnamon over them (as if you are salting them).
- Stir until the potatoes are thoroughly coated in the syrupy mixture. If you need to thin out the mixture a bit to coat the potatoes, you can add more water. If you have too much potato, just add a little more of the butter and brown sugar, then add water.
- Leaving the stove on medium heat, let the mixture come to a rough simmer or low boil, then reduce the heat until it is a gentle but constant simmer.
- Once simmering, stir again. If it’s gotten really thick, you can add a little more water. You do not want it runny, but you don’t want them to burn off all their water. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes to check on progress and prevent sticking.
- Serve and enjoy! But be careful, potatoes hold heat like none other!!!
Recommended consistency: You do not want a puddle of syrup, like what happened when I first made this recipe. I had a puddle of syrup because I didn’t have enough potato for the amount of syrup I made. The consistency of the potatoes is up to you. They will mash a little as you stir them around, but you can control how many get mashed versus how many stay in cubes. I prefer mine like the ones in the white bowl, though the cubes in the blue bowl were still delicious!
This recipe is fully customizable! I use margarine, because I don’t actually like real butter 90% of the time. If you like butter, use butter, but I have absolutely no idea if/how the taste will change. You do need salt in them, it brings out the taste of the sugar; don’t use salt if you decide to use salted butter though. If you don’t want them as sweet, you can reduce the brown sugar a bit. If you want them extra sweet, add more. Seriously, just adjust the ingredients until you get the taste you want!
Orange Sweet Potato Difference
I do not buy the orange sweet potatoes from the produce department, I usually use the canned ones. However, the canned ones do sometimes have a lot of root fibers mixed in, so I imagine the ones from the produce department will make for a less fibrous end result.
If you buy them from the produce department, I do not believe you will need to precook them. I think orange sweet potatoes cook pretty quickly. If they don’t, use the same method as above but cook them for about 30 minutes depending on size.
If you buy canned sweet potatoes / yams (they’re the same thing, I just can’t remember what the cans say on the label), then skip to step 6. Drain the canned potatoes, and add the drained potatoes to the skillet in step 7.
Taste difference between purple and orange. The orange sweet potatoes make for a very sweet end product. While delicious, it can sometimes be too sweet for me. The purple potatoes, however, have a much more earthy taste. When cooked with this recipe, the purple potatoes make for a more savory side dish, with just enough sweet to feel like you are spoiling yourself.