Football season is in full swing, and for me, the best part of watching a game is the spread of snacks that goes along with it. I was recently contacted by The Alcalde, which is an online magazine for the University of Texas alumni, and they asked if I’d like to submit a gameday recipe for this week. I’d be useless in a conversation about football stats, but coming up with food to serve at parties, I can do. Mine is one of four gameday recipes by Austin food bloggers who also happen to have graduated from UT. I wanted to use something seasonal for fall, and sweet potatoes are plentiful right now. There’s a recipe for sweet potato cakes in the book Plenty which is where this idea started. I imagined little, crisp cakes with some added big flavors that would still be easy to pick up at a party. I made some changes to the sweet potato cakes from the book by keeping them simple with just green onion added to the batter and by forming them in a nice, small size. And, since sweet potatoes and chiles belong together, I mixed a chipotle black bean salsa to sit on top and added sour cream for tanginess.
The sweet potato cakes in Plenty have some red chiles and soy sauce in addition to chopped green onions mixed into the batter for extra flavor. I added only green onion and salt and black pepper. Big chunks of peeled sweet potatoes were steamed until tender, allowed to drain until dry, and then mashed with a potato masher. Flour, the green onions, and salt and pepper were added and mixed in by hand, and then small cakes were formed. This process could be done in advance, and the cakes could be stored on a baking sheet in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fry them. They were fried for a few minutes per side in a mix of olive oil and butter, and the butter really adds great flavor. For the chipotle black bean salsa, finely chopped chipotle, small diced yellow bell pepper, minced red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, black beans, lime juice, and some salt were combined, and that’s it. Of course, taste as you go to decide it you’d like more chipotle heat and/or salt. The salsa could also be prepared in advance. For serving, the cakes were topped with sour cream which acts like a glue and holds the salsa in place.
At this size, the cakes hold together well for picking up off a tray, and each one offers a bite or two of sweet, tangy, spicy, fresh flavors. I highly recommend them for a gameday party. Just don’t ask me who won.
Sweet Potato Cakes with Sour Cream and Chipotle Black Bean Salsa
For the sweet potato cakes:
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Makes 34 small cakes)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 green onions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 tablespoons butter
-Steam the sweet potato chunks for 15-20 minutes until completely tender, and then transfer to a colander and allow to drain until dry.
- Once very dry, place sweet potato chunks in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher to break up chunks. Add flour and finely chopped green onions, and mix with your hands to form a smooth batter. Using your hands here is best so that it doesn’t become over mixed. In a food processor, the sweet potato mixture could quickly become gummy. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Once the mixture is smooth, and the flour and green onions are mixed in, you’re ready to fry. Note: the mixture should be sticky but not wet, so more flour may be needed.
- In a non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Form round, flat cakes from about two tablespoons of batter per cake, and fry four or five at a time for three minutes per side until golden. Transfer finished cakes to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool. Add more oil and butter to pan between batches as needed, and continue frying a few cakes at a time until all are ready for their toppings.
For the black bean salsa:
1 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
1 small, yellow bell pepper, small diced
¼ cup finely minced red onion
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon salt
-Combine all salsa ingredients, starting with one chipotle, in a small bowl and stir to combine. Taste for chipotle heat and add more if desired, and taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Salsa can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
To assemble for serving:
½ cup sour cream
- Place sweet potato cakes on a serving platter and add a small dollop of sour cream to each. Top sour cream with a small spoonful of black bean salsa, and enjoy.