This year’s Thanksgiving is barely two days away, and like all other Thanksgivings before it, there is going to be lots and lots of food. Probably more food than you and your guests can handle, err….eat; from the leftover turkey and tantalizing pieces of pumpkin pie to a plate or two of sweet taters. So, what do you do with leftover sweet potatoes? I’m bursting with ideas that reflect my home country–Nigeria (some original, some, eh, not so much) and I can’t wait to share them with you!
Before we proceed, however, I got a question for you. How do you turn your raw taters into Thanksgiving dishes? Do you just boil them, mash them, or roast them? The usual usual?
Well, we’re going to make things a bit more interesting. On Thursday, tantalize your guests with varying creative dishes using sweet potatoes. Skip the bland conventions and add a bit of spice to your feasting. Then, use the leftovers creatively!
If I may be so bold to suggest: “How about adding some sweet potato dishes Nigerian-style to your Thanksgiving table? Excited? Curious? ….Skeptical? Let’s get down to it!
Also called potato porridge, this delicacy can be found in almost every home in Nigeria. Now, keep in mind that there are several ways of preparing this. Here’s mine: Peel your taters and cut them into moderate-sized chunks; not too small, not too big. Place the cut potatoes in a pot and add water. The water level must be below the potatoes in the pot. We don’t want a watery dish, do we?
Now, put in the diced onions, blended tomatoes and pepper, salt and bouillon (maggi) cubes for seasoning, and blended crayfish or store-bought crayfish powder. To make the food even more delicious, you can add already-prepared pieces of beef and fresh fish. After letting it simmer for a short period of time, you’d discover the potatoes are already soft and there is a wonderful scent permeating your home. You can then add your oil. In Nigeria, we use the red oil gotten from palm kernel nuts. You can check your store for viable alternatives. If you like, you could add some veggies at this point although this is totally optional. Leave to boil for a while and voila!
Potato peppersoup (a favorite in Nigeria!)
If you’re looking for something spicy and with a bit more heat, then try out this peppersoup recipe. You can use either Irish potatoes or sweet potatoes. The recipe also offers you the option of using red oil (second image) or skipping the oil altogether (first image). Salt, onions, fresh fish, habanero pepper (hot!), bouillon cubes, scent leaves, ehu (the Nigerian term for calabash nutmeg), black pepper, and onions. Be careful with the pepper though, you don’t want your guests gasping for breath!
Pounded sweet potato
There is nothing a certified Nigerian man loves more than ‘swallow’. Swallow is a very common term in my country used to describe any food pounded into a semi-solid form and served with native soups. This includes eba (made from cassava), pounded yam (made from our local yams), semovita, foofoo, and many more.
Put a special staple of the Ilorin people of Nigeria is the pounded sweet potato. Slice the potatoes, put it in a pot with a substantial amount of water. Cook till they become soft, then proceed to mash them into a semi-solid form. To make it firmer, add potato starch intermittently. This delicacy can be enjoyed with egusi (melon seed soup), ogbono, okra, and other native soups.
Potato combo (my personal tweak on a Nigeria classic, homage to my home)
Okay, I obviously just coined that term, but hey, that’s one of the few perks of being a writer. Word liberty! On a more serious note though, if you do end up with leftover boiled taters from Thanksgiving, it becomes quite boring to just eat boiled potatoes day in, day out. Here’s what we do in my house to spice things up:
You can prepare a steaming tomato and fish sauce, and enjoy with your already cooked taters:
Or fry a couple of eggs with diced onions, pepper, and fish….in the style of Nigeria. Yeah, we love fish. Potato and fried egg combo? Absolutely delicious!
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some brown beans, then this one is for you. Boil the beans in a pot with an adequate quantity of water. Once soft, add your onions, pepper, seasoning cubes, and crayfish. Allow to simmer, then add a moderate quantity of red oil. Let the food steam for a while. If you like, you can add your boiled potatoes into the mix at this point. Then stir and serve.
Or you can serve the beans and potatoes separately. Either way, you are going to have a pretty good time