09 November, 2012

Sweet Potato Croqettes

I love sweet potatoes. 

Sweet potato fries, casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, pie....

I took my love one step further and make these Sweet Potato Croquettes.  
This is a Southern recipe, though I've also seen 'Fried Yam Balls' in African cooking.
They are reminiscent of hush puppies, though hush puppies contain much more breading.
And if you don't know what a hush puppie is, you need to take a trip down south and find out. 

Anyways, these  are delicately crispy on the outside, soft sweet potatoes on the inside.
These would be perfect for an appetizer for a party, or served as a side to dinner for a little added fun-n-crunch.  I could see them being added to a brunch menu too.
I made these the day before- I roasted the sweet potatoes and added all the ingredients but bread crumbs and eggs.  The next day, I simply added the crumbs and eggs, and fried.  

I fried these in extra-virgin olive oil.  No they weren't slimy at all, as you may think would happen from frying in olive oil.  The fact is, olive oil's smoke point is 410 degrees.  When deep frying, oil is  somewhere between 250-350 degrees.  That means you most certainly CAN fry with olive oil- in fact it is healthier, and frys things a bit more delicately if you ask me.
You can use peanut oil or even vegetable oil if that's what you have on hand.

I'm pretty sure using leftover mashed sweet potatoes, adding the bread crumbs and egg, would work just great too!

Sweet Potato Croquettes

Modified from Chef Randy Foote's recipe
Makes roughly 15-20 croquettes

1 large sweet potato, or 2 small, unpeeled, cut in half
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp or so scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 tbsp shallots, minced
2 cups panko bread crumbs (or better yet- fresh bread crumbs if available)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
extra virgin olive oil, or whatever oil you wish to use

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

1. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until soft and nicely browned, 40 min to an hour, depending on size of your potatoes.  Let cool until easy to handle (we'll be getting our hands dirty soon!)

2. Fill a deep, heavy saucepot with oil until about 2 1/2" deep.  The oil will bubble, so make sure you have enough room to contain the bubbles without overflowing on your stove.

3. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees.  The easiest way to do this is use a kitchen thermometer.  Note that it must be a kitchen thermometer, others cannot handle heat that high.  If you don't have one, no big deal, the oil is ready when a one inch piece of cubed bread dropped in turns brown in 60 seconds. 

4. While that's heating, peel and mash the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl.  Add the garlic, scallions, shallots, salt and green pepper, and mix well, using a mixer if available. 

5. Add the egg and half of the bread crumbs, mix by hand (get in there!).  You're looking for a consistency that will easily hold the shape of a ball.  Continue adding bread crumbs until the mixture is not to wet and sticky, but not too dry.  Press one into a ball, make sure it sticks together easily.  

6. Adjust seasonings- add pepper and additional salt if desired.  Use a small ice cream scoop (or just your hands) and form into 1 inch balls. Drop a few balls into the hot oil.  DO NOT overcrowd the pan.  I used a smaller pot, and could only fit 4 at a time.  Fry for about 2 minutes, until golden.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out, and test the doneness of the inside- the first one I fried, when I removed it was still cold on the inside.  

7. Continue frying in batches until all are done. Drain the croquettes on a wire rack- this allows them to retain their crunchy texture versus sitting in oil on a plate.  

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