I think of this tuber vegetable as the Mighty Sweet Potato. My grandmother, who reared me, loved, absolutely loved a baked sweet potato. And yes, we had sweet potato pie during holiday seasons. But for her, a baked sweet potato was to be enjoyed at lunch, at dinner or as a snack any other time of the year.
I too came to love baked sweet potatoes. As an adult, I enjoy them by adding more wonderful flavors, not just butter but also spices.
For example, sometimes I just add ground clover, all spice, cinnamon, or mix them up. My latest palate favorite is to add my homemade garam masala. You can purchase garam masala in the grocery store and online. However, if you want to make your own, as I did, see my recipe on Garam Masala - Use Whole Or Pre-Grounded Spices?
Sweet Potato versus Yam:
There is one thing I must make clear: a sweet potato is not a yam! The sweet potato and the yam are not even in the same botanical family. What's the physical and culinary difference? Yams have a white interior flesh, are starchier and tougher than sweet potatoes. For a sweet potato, there are three types. One is firm, has a golden skin and pale flesh. The other type is soft, has a copper skin and an orange flesh. (from the Kitchn) A third type has a purple flesh. (from North Carolina Sweet Potato) Note, I had used the soft variety sweet potato for this recipe.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 - 1 pound sweet potato for each serving. (2 people, 2 -1 pound sweet potatoes)
1-2 Tablespoons of butter for each potato
2 Tablespoons garam masala for each potato
2 teaspoons of sugar for each potato (optional)
Olive oil to rub on skin of sweet potato (optional)
Scrub the sweet potato skin. Using a fork, prick the skin in 3 different places across the top. My grandmother always rubbed cooking oil on the skin. I honestly don't know why. I've cooked it with the oil rub and without and have yet to notice the difference. So you follow me and don't bother.
Place the sweet potato(es) on a cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove the potato(es) from the oven. Using a sharp knife, split the skin lengthwise, then crosswise. Carefully pull back the skin. Careful, hot steam will escape. Add butter and garam masala. Using a fork, mash and mix in the butter and spice.
Suggested side servings, if you really need more food:
Sausage patties or links
Fried pork chops
Sweet garden peas and pearl onion