November 13, 2013

Mashed Sweet Potato with Taleggio + Cinnamon

        I promise that this time I actually used a recipe for the dish I made.  And by recipe I mean said recipe was made up by my brain whilst staring at a pudgy slab of Italian Taleggio cheese, eyes glassy with desire, and thinking "yeah, those flavors would be so awesome together."  Completely neglecting the fact that it's likely a flavor combo I've never even encountered.  Yet I forge ahead.  
    Swan diving into undetermined amounts of salt and spice.  Baking, whisking, simmering, broiling my way to something that I hope will be edible.  
    Not just edible.  
    I want whatever it is to be that mouthful that makes the eater go blind with temporary joy.  The type of dish that makes the recipient stand up and shout "This! This thing right here!"  Then followed by the silence so peculiar to a meal being thoroughly devoured.
    So I'm not that close to being that good of a chef (or even a real chef at all).  What I can do is whip together a dish (usually cheese centric, natch.) and make it work.  Enough so that the lucky test subject holds out a plate and mumbles, mouth crowded with Gorgonzola sauce and pecans, "More, please."  
    This go around I was caught in a fit of having the right ingredients all at the same time.  It's November.  Which means in Denver it's cold-ish (sort of).  I wanted hot comfort food.  Sunshine and perfect fall temperatures be damned.  What came out of my kitchen was surprisingly fall-like, if a bit on the almost painfully orange side.  
    But, oh, that Italian Taleggio and the cinnamon blended with brown sugar, butter, and warmed cream into the oven roasted sweet potatoes! 
    I had the good insight to toast the cinnamon lightly on a dry, hot pan before putting it in the mix.  Playing up the savory side of cinnamon by really opening its flavor and lending it a gentle roasted quality.  
    The whole dish was balanced between that earthy-sweet of the potato, the egg-y meatiness of Taleggio, and the savory-sweet dance of cinnamon and light brown sugar.  It's a good thing I came up for air.

Mashed Sweet Potato with Taleggio + Cinnamon
 serves 2-4
2 large sweet potatoes
4 oz. Taleggio Cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs salted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs packed light brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F
(for you high altitude cooks I found 375F worked best)
Wash and pat dry the potatoes.  
With a fork poke a few holes in the skin of each.
Roast in a pan or cookie sheet for approx. 1 hour or until the skin is crispy and insides are soft.

Unwrap the Taleggio.  Trimming away the rind and cutting into small pieces. Set aside a few pieces to top the dish with.

On the stove top heat a dry skillet on medium.  When hot add cinnamon and stir until fragrant about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn down heat to medium low.
Add butter, cream, and brown sugar.  Stir until melted and hot but not bubbling. 

Mash potatoes and Taleggio together in a large bowl with a fork or masher until coarse and lumpy.  Slowly, using a hand-mixer to blend, add the hot cream mixture until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy.

Whip in salt to taste and freshly cracked pepper if desired.

Top with remaining pieces of Taleggio

Serve* at once. 

*Preferably at your upcoming Thanksgiving feast!