Sometimes even the best cookbooks say things that make the home cook laugh out loud. And while we really like this recipe and the cookbook it came from, this recipe has an instruction that’s one of the silliest we have ever seen, “be sure to choose yams of even thickness from end to end”. (Oh, and please go find Bigfoot while you’re at it.) We have yet to find an evenly shaped yam, and don’t expect to any time soon, neither should you. But happily, this is a delicious recipe and is pretty good for you, too. So even if you can’t find a perfectly shaped yam, this recipe is worth making.
And by “yam” we really mean the orange, soft sweet potatoes of the United States. The true yam is an African crop, usually with lighter colored flesh (here is a good link to explain the differences and terminology). But for whatever reason, we call some sweet potatoes “yams” and so does this recipe. Go figure (or don’t, this stuff can make your head hurt). But meanwhile, look for large, orange-fleshed yams / sweet potatoes at your grocery store or farmer’s market. Yams are cheap, nutritious and versatile. And their sweet flavor is a good way to sneak some extra veggies into your kids.
This recipe is adapted from “Ripe, A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables” from Cheryl Sternman Rule. And the recipe is a real winner, and quite easy to make. You simply peel and slice the yams, make a paste of salt, pepper, brown sugar, chili powder and oil, coat the yam slices and bake in the oven for an hour, flipping them over halfway. But the recipe does have one more (albeit smaller) laugher, when it says, “cook all the yams for an hour, don’t pull them out earlier”. And we guess if we had “even-thickness” yams, that advice might work. But we don’t, so the smaller pieces need to come out of the oven a bit early, and not burn.