Cooking Through Alton: Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

We're trying recipes by Food Network icon Alton Brown that might work for Thanksgiving. If they're good, you'll have a complete guide for the big meal. If they're clunkers, we'll provide you with alternate recipes that are tried and true.

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

The dish: This recipe is an absolute 180 from typical heavy Thanksgiving Day table fare. This moderately healthy dish isn't bogged down with waist-popping ingredients such as cream, brown sugar and marshmallows. The potato is the star, and the smokey, slow burn of the chipotle provides the support.

The difficulty: Enjoy this one, folks. Go ahead and scour Food Network's site for hours. You won't find an easier Alton recipe. It consists of five inexpensive ingredients, all of which are easy to find in the grocery store. Perfect for a beginner cook, this recipe is for someone who wants to help out on Thanksgiving but doesn't possess a tremendous amount of kitchen experience.

The presentation: Thanksgiving dishes must look and taste great. Presentation counts, especially on a holiday. A few simple techniques can help dress up a visually boring dish such as sweet potatoes. Break out the fine China, and throw a little green on the top. I used some cilantro. The reddish specs of chopped chipotle resemble bacon bits and play off quite well against the orange potatoes and green cilantro. Go ahead and hit it with a pat of butter if you must.

The slim down: Nothing, nada, zilch. Don't try to make this dish any healthier. It only calls for two tablespoons of butter, and using any less would be a bad decision.

The tips: Be careful when you read the recipe. One of the ingredients is awkwardly worded. It reads: "1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped." That can be a little confusing. Just take out one single chipotle pepper, chop it up, then add one teaspoon of the adobo sauce. That's it, nothing more. If you add the entire can, your dish will come out too spicy (unless that's your thing). Also, please consider doubling this recipe's ingredients for a larger group.

The verdict: Alton's version of sweet potatoes was a success. Unique, healthy, easy and tasty--all adjectives you often look for in a recipe. The level of heat was just right. A Thanksgiving plate is all about playing one dish's flavors off another. Topping these potatoes with the sweetness of cranberry sauce, then mixing in some savory stuffing, will be a winning combination--especially if you're a mixer like me. Other key benefits of this recipe: It keeps the oven free for other sides or the turkey, it's a great dish to get the kids involved in the kitchen, and the easy steps and a short prep time allow these potatoes to be ready in 30 minutes.

If you're dead set on a classic version, here you go: This recipe is gluttonous, fatty perfection and one of my all-time favorites.

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