img_6669Whether you’re a Steelers fan, a Cardinals follower or just part of the 95% of all Americans who find the matchup for Super Bowl XLIII severely underwhelming, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be watching the big game this Sunday.  And while you wait for the next Pets.com spot or <insert favorite Super Bowl ad here>, you’re probably going to be munching on something.  Forget mom and apple pie – I can’t think of a combination more American than snack foods and football.

So what better way to bring back Foodie Magazine Day than with a twist on a junk food classic that’s sure to get attention at your Super Bowl feast?

In the January/February issue of Everyday Food, we came across a recipe for loaded sweet potato skins that we just couldn’t pass up.  Eager to see if they lived up to the glory that is even your most average ‘tater skin, we decided to give them a try.

Check out the recipe and the results after the jump.

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We started with four medium sweet potatoes, scrubbing them clean and patting them dry as instructed.  After rubbing them in one tablespoon of olive oil and giving them a sprinkling of pepper and salt, they went into a 450-degree oven to bake for 45 minutes.  To minimize potential messes, we poked our sweet potatoes with a fork beforehand and lined our baking tray with aluminum foil.  The potatoes came out of the oven fully baked and we let them sit until they had cooled sufficiently.

After slicing the potatoes in half lengthwise, I found myself facing a bit of confusion.  Though the recipe called for scooping 1/3 of a cup of sweet potato from each half, I was having a hard time getting any kind of accurate measure on the amounts I was scooping.  Eventually I just decided to eyeball it, leaving a thin amount of potato in each half as I tried to emulate the skins I enjoyed at bars and TGI Friday’s throughout my misspent youth (I’ll still kick your ass at NTN video trivia, thank you very much).

img_6666The scooped potato went into a bowl with 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk and 1/4 teaspoon paprika.  The potato was so soft already that we barely had to do anything to get the mixture to the desired smooth consistency.  We then scooped the mash back into the skins, filling them completely.

The recipe identifies this as a stopping point, at which you can refrigerate your mashed sweet potato mixture for as long as two days.  We plowed right ahead, but this is important information if you’re planning to make these skins as part of some all out Super Bowl feast and you need to time your cooking accordingly.

From here the skins go back into the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes, allowing them to brown and (hopefully) firm up a bit.  And while they’re doing that, you can focus on the truly important stuff: bacon and sour cream.  They wouldn’t be loaded skins without bacon, would they?  So cook up four slices of bacon however you know best, remembering that they are to be crumbled over your skins when all is said and done.  For me, that means microwaving the bacon – cooking it on the griddle or in a skillet is just too hit-or-miss for me when it comes to crisp slices.  Crumble the bacon and set it aside.  Mix 1/4 cup sour cream (ours was fresh, purchased  from Bowers Fancy Dairy Products in Eastern Market, and I have to admit it really did surpass any store-bought sour cream I’ve had before) with two tablespoons of water to create a thin, sour-creamy drizzle.

img_6671When you pull the skins from the oven, take a look.  Are they crispy with brown edges and a nicely cooked interior?  Nah, ours weren’t either.  Next time, I think we’ll use less of the filling to stuff the skins before putting them back into the oven.  Maybe that will give them a chance to crisp up.

The final step is drizzling the sour cream mixture over the skins, topping them with the bacon crumbles and some additional paprika, and scattering some chopped green onions over them as a garnish.  No scallions?  No problem.  Are you really eating potato skins for the garnish anyway?  Cut each half in half again before serving them hot out of the oven.  The end result is a sweet twist on potato skins that eliminates some of the greasiness of the original without sacrificing flavor.

One of the nicest things about this recipe is how easy it is to scale it to the size of your crowd.  Since each sweet potato yields four quarters that are topped with the crumbles from a single slice of bacon, you can quickly increase your quantities of potato and bacon to accomodate anywhere from 8 to 80 guests.  Just make sure you give yourself extra baking time if you’re planning to significantly increase the number of sweet potatoes you’re using.

We’re thinking about giving these another go as our contribution to a Super Bowl party this year – but then we’ll also be tending the Big Green Egg to turn out something substantial and meaty.  Be on the lookout for a full report next week!

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