The sweet potato, indigenous to tropical America, has been a staple of the Mexican diet since there were people who were hungry. On one of my first trips to Mexico City, I still remember being startled one evening by an eerie, melancholy wail that dominated all other street noises. When I investigated, I found it was a camote vendor, pushing his small cart full of dark-skinned tubers steaming inside a metal drum. The mournful cry was the steam escaping, altering the neighborhood to the camotero’s nightly visit.
This comforting dish rounds out a festive meal featuring the Holiday Stuffed Turkey but it goes equally well with simple grilled meats.
- 6 medium sweet potatoes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons cognac or good brandy
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cassia)
- Sea salt and freshy ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Scrub the sweet potatoes well but do not peel them. Poke a few holes in the top with the tines of a fork to let the steam escape while they are baking. Bake the potatoes on a rack in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until they respond to pressure when pressed with towel-wrapped fingers.
To prepare the topping, melt the butter with the brown sugar and add the nuts or coconut and the allspice. Spoon the topping over the sweet potatoes. Return the potatoes to the oven and bake about 15 minutes, until glazed a deep golden brown.