- Saturday, 23 January 2016

Heavenly Baked Sweet Potato

Quite frankly, as vegetables go, I think potatoes are among the more boring of the crew. While I don't actively dislike them, I wouldn't choose them and I'm not a humongous fan of crisps or chips (sorry potatoes: please don't take it personally). I do like a good Christmas roastie, but that is most likely because I like almost anything Christmas-related (except sprouts - the line must be drawn somewhere - but if you do like sprouts then power to you; you are more than welcome to mine) rather than because I am particularly drawn to crunchy, earthy, rooty starch. Mmm, yum. What an appetising description.

It is for exactly this reason that I have never had a proper baked potato - by 'proper', I mean I am discounting the (dry, powdery and generally fairly undesirable) "Half a baked potato and cheese please," that was my school lunch of choice as a (clearly deluded) eight-year-old. I never loved the potatoes, and only added cheese because I had been told off when asking for a plain baked potato; occasionally, if I was feeling brave enough, I would pluck up the courage to ask for cucumber as well, which would elevate my terrible meal to slightly less terrible.. but why did I subject myself to that on a much too regular basis? Oh yes, because school lunches only started to get properly good when we were all just about to leave for the big wide world. Better late than never, eh?


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Enter the sweet potato. While the idea of a baked potato has, since school, been less than appealing, I have heard many good things about its sweeter and more vibrant relative (we all have one). Supposedly they're much better for you, and they just look nicer - less beige. Vibrancy is a very tip top quality, in both vegetables and people. Also photos. Life generally.

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So after the fably positive reception that this concoction had on Instagram recently (fab by my standards.. fabosity is subjective okay), it seemed only logical to share it with the world. World, you're welcome. Embrace the message sent out by an alternate universe's version of the Spice Girls, and Sweeten Up Your Life. (Interestingly (and somewhat sadly) a search on Spotify has thrown up exactly zilcho results for songs with this title. A missed opportunity, truly.)

On with the show.

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Baked Sweet Potato with Chorizo, Pesto and Much Cheese
serves either one or two, depending on the size of both the sweet potato and your appetite

Ingredients
1 sweet potato
1 inch chorizo
2 tsp fresh basil pesto (use jar pesto if you want but a tub of fresh is just unparalleled levels of great)
1 tbsp pepper Boursin cheese (tbsp is approximate, feel free to go for more (or less, although why???))
1 tbsp Saint Agur cheese (tbsp also approximate here)
2 tsp oil (olive/rapeseed/sunflower/whatever you have; probably not coconut oil though)
1/2 tsp paprika
salt
pepper


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Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. This is for a fan oven; if you have a different kind of oven, Google is your friend. (I am too, I'm just less helpful conversion-wise.)
2. Scrub the potato under warm water. Best not to eat soil. (Although if you are tempted, it may be a sign of potassium deficiency! Snack on a banana while you wait for your spud to cook.)
3. Using a knife, puncture your potato evenly all over- this is the ideal time to take out any pent-up anger you might be harbouring. Just be careful you don't puncture yourself.
4. Rub the potato with whatever oil you're using - a swanky flavoured oil would work well for this because the flavour will be absorbed by the tattie and taste magical.
5. Follow the oil rub with a pinch-of-salt rub. Bonus! You get a nice hand exfoliation while you're doing this too. Now you can enjoy a delicious meal whilst holding your cutlery with silky smooth hands (providing you're not chomping it straight from the plate like a sweet potato-crazed hound).
5. Chuck it on a baking tray, and pop it in the oven! (Which you preheated, right?) An hour should do it for a smaller potato or a big one cut in half, but the one I photographed for this post took an hour and 15 minutes, so just engage brain.
6. While it's cooking, chop up your chorizo into teeny pieces and have some snackage. I am a serial grape-eater whilst making other food, which is lucky as I now have three punnets of grapes to get through before they go off. (Sidenote: red grapes all the way.)
7. About five minutes before the time is up, take it out of the oven and give it a squish to see how done it is. Be careful of your fingers because it will be hot! (Or it should be anyway. As long as you had the oven on.) It should be squishable and easy to cut. Slice it long-ways and then do little slices perpendicular across the way. (That was a terrible explanation - check the photos to see what I mean!
8. Put it back in the oven for the last five potato-only minutes; it will caramelise around the slicey bits on the top and go generally amazing.
9. Remove it from the oven again, open it up, and scoop some of the insides from the sides more into the middle using a fork. The consistency should be a sort of mash, so that you can mix the extras in easy peasily.
10. Now add the fillings: this is where your creative flair can take hold. GO WILD! I mixed my choices in with the actual potato a bit as I went, and scattered them in this order (can also suggest you do the same because it tastes wonderful):
- 1 tsp pesto
- half the chorizo
- Boursin
- half of what's left of the chorizo (quarter overall)
- Saint Agur
- rest of the chorizo
- 1 tsp pesto
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- black pepper
And then shove it back in for another five minutes! THEN YOU ARE DONE!!!


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pre-final five minutes with fillings!
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see what I mean about how to cut it?










Well done. You did it. You waited more than an hour for a meal, and as you take a bite you will realise it was so completely worth it (or at least I hope so - mine certainly was). Feel free to fill the potato with anything you have. If you're not a fan of strong cheeses then cheddar or brie would also be delicious; you could add some pomegranate seeds for a bright, exotic twist; avocado would be delicious too, perhaps paired with a fresh and zesty tomato salsa; if you're not averse to the sweetness of sweet potato, you could try it with peanut butter or go the pancake route and top it with bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.. Anything is possible.


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Anything that can be made into indulgent and somehow relatively innocuous chocolate brownies (sweet potato brownies firmly on the 'to make' list) is going to taste pretty incredible with any combination of flavours, so experimentation really is key.

Enjoy.

P.S. I want to see photos if you make this! (Twitter and Instagram are both @imogenfin)

*All photos in this post are mine. If you wish to use any, please ask my permission and credit me!*


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