The first sign of spring is here! No, its not bluebirds. Its not daffodils, either. Its … Daylight Savings time! (And I hope you all remembered to change the batteries in you Smoke Alarms and CO detectors.) Maybe you think I am a bit overexcited about the time change, but frankly I am tired of sunsets of 5:30 in the evening. The official start of spring may be about two weeks off, but warmer weather and longer days has me in a spring kind of mood!
Since the weather has been so nice, I took a trip to my favorite farmer’s market. I found a bounty of fresh, delicious and sophisticated ingredients. In fact, all of the ingredients for this weeks recipe were purchased there. This dish is a delightfully modern twist on mashed sweet potatoes. From Southern France, to Italy to, New Orleans to western North Carolina and everywhere in between – this is a southern favorite. If its got Pancetta, you know it is going to be good!
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onion and Pancetta
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 3 medium)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (2 oz)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- Boil sweet potatoes in large saucepan of boiling salted water over medium-high heat 15-20 minutes or until very tender.
- Drain sweet potatoes; return to saucepan.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot.
- Add pancetta; cook 2-3 minutes or until pancetta begins to brown.
- Add onion; cook 15-20 minutes or until onions are caramelized, stirring frequently. Adjust heat, if necessary, to prevent onions from browning too quickly.
- Add vinegar; stir, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet.
- Over very low heat, mash sweet potatoes.
- Add mascarpone, salt and pepper.
- Stir in onion mixture.
Note: You can use bacon if you don’t have pancetta available. Just cook the bacon in a medium pot of boiling water 1 minute. Drain and rinse until cool. Blanching helps remove some of the smoky flavor from the bacon.