Don’t Pierce Your Sweet Potatoes

Don’t Pierce Your Sweet Potatoes
Contributor: Claire Lower

Unlike white potatoes such as russets or Yukons, yams and sweet potatoes do not have skins that are pleasurable to eat. Instead of getting crispy, they get tough, with a texture somewhere in-between paper and leather. The insides, however, are quite delicious, and we have the skin to thank for that — it acts as a perfect roasting packet for the tuber’s fluffy interior, and it does its job best if you don’t pierce it before cooking.

Piercing a sweet potato lets steam and sugar escape while roasting, and you don’t want either of those things to happen. I’m sure you’ve roasted a pierced sweet potato, only to find streams of sticky stuff coating the outside, which is what I call “a waste”; that sticky sweet flavour belongs inside the potato (and eventually inside your mouth).

Neither is there a reason to give the steam an escape route by way of a few fork stabs. The potato will not rupture without one. In fact, I’ve found sweet potatoes cooked without being forked first are much easier to peel, post-roasting, as the steam pushes against the skin as it tries to escape, separating it from the flesh. Roasting a whole, un-punctured sweet potato in a hot oven — I’m talking 230 degrees Celsius for about an hour — results in a tender, fluffy potato with flimsy, papery, somewhat charred skin that flakes off in huge pieces with the gentlest of tugs.

It’s the lowest-effort, most effective sweet potato roasting method I’ve tried, is what I’m saying. I used it just last night. I took a whole, unwashed garnet yam, plunked it on small baking tray in a 230-degree oven, then walked away for an hour. Once it finished cooking, I sliced it in half to reveal a very noticeable gap (close to 1cm) between skin and potato. I pulled the skin off, cubed the potato, and ate it with some ramen noodles tossed in a little chilli oil. It was good. I’d do it again, and I recommend you try it too.

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