I have been getting a lot of emails lately. Most are about baking soda and ground beef, one was about Stuart Murdoch, and a fair number are about sweet potatoes, their skins, and how I am a doofus for not eating them (a thing I mentioned in this blog about roasting them):
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.
While no one disagreed with my description of the skin’s texture, they urged me to “consider the syrupy, caramelised sweetness and rich flavours that can become attached to the skins’ inner surfaces,” and to “butter that bad boy liberally (or use oil or shortening) and sprinkle on some coarse salt.” (Oddly these emails were some of the most polite I’ve ever received, unlike the beef emails, which were quite rude).
As a dedicated consumer of white potato peels, I was somewhat embarrassed to learn I have been missing out. So I did what the nice, polite readers suggested and baked another sweet potato.
I kept the cooking temp and time the same (200 degrees Celsius for an hour in the oven/half that in the air fryer), and left the skin un-punctured, only this time I coated the yam in bacon grease and Sicilian sea salt before baking. If you’ve never coated a root vegetable in bacon grease, it’s very easy: scoop some grease up with your (clean) fingers, and rub it all around the potato with your hands, then sprinkle on salt to form a glittering crust.
I must say, I was not disappointed with the results. Though I stand by my initial assessment that sweet potato skins are “leathery,” they weren’t unchewable, and chewing on something infused with bacon fat is pretty fun. (Vegetarians: Try olive or avocado oil.) By itself the peel is pretty bitter, but that bitterness pairs well with the potato’s sweet interior. In fact, the combination of sweet flesh, lightly bitter peel, and all those caramelised bits on the inside is pretty delightful.
But more importantly — nay, most importantly — this means I never have to peel another sweet potato. And as a fan of not doing things over doing things, this is great news.