Honey and Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Honey Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

I will admit it – I am not a fan of really sweet,  sweet potato dishes. Not unless it is a dessert. My Mom never served sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but they were still served “candied”. Sweet potatoes, sometimes canned, cooked in a glaze of brown sugar and butter. It was just what we did.

Then, one year,  I grew my own sweet potatoes. Everything changed after that. I can still remember the joy of digging that first plant up.  There they were, a cluster of beautiful sweet potatoes. I grew a lot of them that first year. I steamed them, baked them, made soup with them. Even had them for breakfast a few times.

My Mom was so pleased when I told her I was supplying them for her Thanksgiving dinner that year. I suggested we just cook them with a little butter, salt and pepper. They were so naturally sweet, that they surely, did not need to be candied.

Not everyone was so pleased with that choice. Clearly, how to prepare sweet potatoes evokes some of the same passion as how to cook the turkey. So for awhile, there were two competing dishes of sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table. As if there weren’t enough dishes to worry about- we now had to have 2 types of sweet potatoes.

I hope this dish might just bridge the gap between the two camps. A little sweet, but not overly sweet. The orange juice and honey enhance the sweet potatoes nicely. The sugared nuts are a fun addition, too.

Honey Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

4 T. butter
4-5 c. peeled and sliced sweet potatoes
1 c. fresh orange juice
Zest of 2 oranges
¼ c. honey
2 t. hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh grated nutmeg
Sugared nuts- optional* recipe follows

Melt butter in large skillet. Add sweet potatoes and cook over medium heat, for 5- 8 minutes. Potatoes should start to turn a little golden. Add orange juice, honey and seasonings and turn heat down to low. Cook, uncovered,  until potatoes are tender and liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. If you want more color on the sweet potatoes, turn the heat up a little once they are tender, and liquid is mostly gone. Serve with sugared nuts sprinkled on top, if you like. These can be made a day ahead and reheated.

*Sugared Nuts

4-5 c. nuts, I like walnuts or pecans
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. orange peel
1 t. salt, optional
Place all ingredients in heavy skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until all the water disappears. Whatever liquid in the pan will be clinging to the nuts and syrupy. Dump nuts onto a large cookie sheet and break apart with a wooden spoon to prevent clumping. As nuts cool, stir once or twice to remove any remaining clumps, and to cool faster. Nuts will lose their glossy appearance and attain a sugary crust. If it looks like nut soup, you didn’t cook them long enough, and you must return all to the skillet and cook longer. As the nuts start to get drier during cooking, you can turn down the heat a little to prevent burning. Once you’ve made a few batches, though, you will get good at judging when to stop cooking. You can also make a spicy version by adding a teaspoon of cayenne pepper along with the other ingredients. Store in cool, dry place to keep nuts fresh longer.