A two-step process that will transform how you cook this sweet tuber
"Don't give me no rotten tomato, 'cause all I ever wanted was your sweet potato"~Sarah Dessen
I personally love sweet potatoes! Their sweetness always goes well with any entrée. Sweet potatoes are one of those few vegetables that I truly enjoy without much dressing up, mashed, or baked and I can eat just by itself. And I love using the sweet tuber as an accompaniment to grilled items. Which made me wonder, can sweet potatoes be grilled? I pondered on this question for a bit.
Sweet Potatoes are full of nutrients, beta carotene, and complex carbohydrates. They are also denser than regular potatoes. The number of natural sugars, starches, and fiber that makes up a sweet potato also increases the cooking time for the tubers. Let me ask you a question, have you ever cooked a sweet potato and found that the potato is still hard in the center, even though you have poked it before baking it? This is why when I thought of grilling them, I felt a bit stumped until I decided to try something else. A step before grilling.
My not so secret, secret to my sweet potatoes.
The secret of how to grill sweet potatoes flawlessly is very easy, in order to grill the potato, you must boil the potato first. This is the two-step process that will deliver a great product. I have made this recipe with this method twice. The first time I made them I grilled the potatoes in my cast iron grill pan indoors. I live in Florida, and over here it rains like clockwork in the afternoon. As my husband and I were in the midst of smoking some ribs, torrential rain poured down on us, so I decided to make the spuds indoors. The second time, was a similar situation, except that I decided to sear the potatoes before baking them at the end. The first time I boiled and pan-grilled, the second time I boiled, pan-seared, and finished in the oven.
Cooking the Sweet Potatoes
First, fill a saucepot with 2 quarts of water and start warming up the grill. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into one-inch medallions. Peeling the sweet potatoes makes a difference in a few levels. It is easier to eat, and it helps with the cooking process. I found hard spots on the sweet potatoes that were not peeled the first time I tried this recipe. I peeled them on the second attempt and found a much more delectable product. You also have an option to leave potatoes whole, note that cooking time will be longer since the potatoes will be at their full density.
After peeling, rinse the potatoes and place them in the saucepot. Add cold water to cover. Make sure the potatoes are fully submerged in water. Bring water to a boil and cook the sweet potatoes for about 15 to 20 minutes. We are looking for a fork-tender for the potatoes, but not overcooked. This step could be done the day before the event. Make sure to cool the potatoes down by placing them on a plate and then in the refrigerator uncovered for about 30 minutes.
While potatoes are cooking, mix all the other ingredients in a bowl. We are going to brush this mixture onto the potatoes while grilling. Once potatoes are just fork-tender, remove potatoes from the pot and place on a plate lined with paper towels. We want to absorb some of the excess liquid from the potato before transferring them to the grill.
Grilling the sweet potatoes
Place the potatoes on the grill. We want a medium heat area of the grill. Too hot will scorch them, and too low will not give the potatoes good grill marks. Cook one side of the potatoes for about 5 minutes, then turn the potatoes 90 degrees. Cook for another 5 minutes. If potatoes are marking faster than 5 minutes feel free to adjust your cooking time.
Turn the potatoes over to the other side. Take the sugar and spice mixture and brush the potatoes with the mixture. Let potatoes cook for another 5 minutes. If you decide to sear the potatoes in a pan and finish in the oven, brush the mixture onto the potatoes after you have a good sear on one of the sides. Then, flip the medallion, brush the sugar mixture, and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
You can opt to flip the potatoes to caramelize the mixture onto the medallions. You will still get a nice sticky covering on the potatoes. Remove from the grill and serve as a side dish or as the main entree.