I hear that some people order twice-baked potatoes as sides at steak houses; I've never done such a thing. When I eat a decked-out potato, I want it to be the main event of my evening, or at least my meal. Maybe I'd put a handful of salad greens to round out the plate, but the point is, if there was a potato tossed with butter and melted cheese sitting in front of me, I wouldn't even see the steak.
These twice-baked sweet potatoes are the November-ified version of the old-fashioned starchy favorite. If you're comfortable with them playing second fiddle to the turkey, I recommend them as a Thanksgiving side. Because they can be baked the first time far in advance, then stuffed and kept until you're ready to eat, they work well from a scheduling point of view. When the turkey's out of the oven, you can stick them in for their second round of baking.
From the taste side of things, if you find the traditional brown sugar-y sweet potatoes too cloying (I for one don't), these will step in to save the day.
If your Thanksgiving table is too weighed down by traditional dishes, then do as I've been doing—make these for one or two, stuff them, keep them in the fridge, and bake as needed. When you're ready, you'll have a cozy, easy, cheap, at-home dinner where potatoes take center stage.
Shopping List: 4 sweet potatoes, $2; 6 ounces white cheddar cheese, $2; 2 tablespoons sour cream, $0.50 (prorated).
Pantry Items: Butter, Nutmeg, White Pepper, Salt
Total Cost (for 4 portions): $4.50
About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
- 2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
Line floor of oven with aluminum foil, preheat oven to 400°F, and set the rack to middle position. Wash sweet potatoes well. Poke in 3 places each using skewer or knife. Place directly on oven rack and roast until knife inserted in potato shows no resistance, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove potatoes to cooling rack set in rimmed baking sheet until cool enough to handle.
Cut each potato in half lengthwise and use paring knife to cut out flesh, leaving about a 1/4 layer on skins. Scoop the sweet potato flesh into bowl. Sprinkle skins and remaining flesh with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Add 1 1/2 cups of cheese, butter, sour cream, nutmeg, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to scooped flesh and mash to combine.
Place scooped-out potatoes on rimmed baking sheet. Put quarter of stuffing in each potato half and top evenly with remaining cheese. Return the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are hot, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer to plate and serve immediately.