This recipe was printed next to a story called "Romantic Potatoes" about a sweet rich girl at a country club and the grocery delivery boy who loved her.
|Philadelphia Inquirer Recipe Exchange, September 13 1935, p. 12 |
Sweet Potato Boulettes
"These are delicious and a good change in potatoes."
6 medium sweet potatoes
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
4 tbsp melted butter
3 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
Heat oven to 375°. Grease a baking sheet.
Cook the potatoes until tender. (I suggest microwaving them.) Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Peel the potatoes (you can just pick the skins off with your fingers) and mash well. Add salt, pepper, and about half the melted butter. Taste and check seasonings.
Form into round balls about 2 inches in diameter. Place on the pan.
Sprinkle with chopped bacon, gently pressing the bacon into place. Brush with the remaining melted butter. If the butter is unsalted, lightly shake a little bit of salt over all of them.
Brown in the oven for 12 minutes. (I ended up baking mine for 25 minutes.)
Garnish with parsley.
Note: Since I had no fresh parsley lying around, I added a few shakes of dried parsley to the potatoes. It was a very good.
Mrs. Agnes McGoldrick, 224 South Logan Ave, Audubon, New Jersey; Philadelphia Inquirer Recipe Exchange, September 13 1935, p. 12
Like nearly everyone on Earth, we cook a lot of spuds. But while potatoes are a delicious way to briefly ignore the ever-worsening prices of everything in the grocery store, my spud repertoire is a bit limited. And so, in looking for new ways to serve potatoes, we turn to the Philadelphia Inquirer Recipe Exchange.
|And so our recipe begins!|
When we made the Gilt Edged Potatoes, we discussed the long history of recipes that creatively repurpose leftovers, and how all of that ended when every kitchen got a microwave. I now think that the gilt-edged potatoes are not an attempt to make leftovers exciting. I think they're an example of a genre of recipes I did not know existed: attempts to dress up mashed potatoes. Baking bread for dinner requires a lot of attention and time, but you can drop potatoes into a pot of boiling water and more or less ignore them for a while. But although mashed potatoes are easy to make, few people would get excited about them every night.
With that in mind, we are adding a new spin to our spuds with as little extra effort as possible. After all, this recipe is from the 1930s. The lady newsreader looking through the Inquirer Recipe Exchange still had to cook dinner and also do the rest of the housework in an era when the only people who could afford vacuum cleaners also had servants to operate them.
But before we get to our potatoes, we need bacon. You may think I am unable to save any bacon whenever we cook it. After all, the last time I only needed a little bit for a recipe I was making, I ended up cooking the whole package by popular demand. But it turns out that while everyone in the house thinks they will eat a whole pound of bacon, they always end up prematurely bacon-ed out while the last of it gets cold on the greasy plate. I didn't discreetly hide any of the bacon for future boulettes because I knew I wouldn't have to. But I was amused at how much bacon I could force into this tiny container. It practically sprang out when I opened the lid.
With the saltpetered pig ready to go, we could move on to the spuds. I wasn't in the mood to wait for the sweet potato to boil, so I microwaved it. I won't lie and claim I fretted about retaining water-soluble vitamins, though that definitely is a nice advantage. Like so many people using the microwave, I was impatient and lazy. And speaking of lazy, I have to give Mrs. McGoldrick credit for completely eliminating the tedious task of peeling raw potatoes. Why spend all that time with a paring knife or vegetable peeler when you could just pick off the potato skins with your fingertips after cooking?
The potato shrank away from the skin as it cooked. Check out how much airspace we had inside the peel.
You may have noticed that in the past few years, sweet potatoes have been sold as the healthier version of potatoes. I was quite devastated to learn that while both types of potato have a decent assortment of vitamins and other things that are good for you, they're nutritionally nearly the same. When I found out, I regretted all the soggy sweet potato fries I have ever permitted onto my plate in the name of vitamins or something. I haven't felt so profoundly disillusioned by a food history podcast since I learned that dried cranberries are essentially nutrient-free candy.
I have actually never cooked a whole sweet potato before. I didn't know they're so fibrous on the inside. While I initially worried that microwaving the potato had irreparably toughened it, it yielded just as easily as any other spud that has met the household potato smasher.
Shaping a mashed potato into balls felt like making cookies. Heck, it even looks like a batch of cookies if one made very liberal use of artificial dye. You may note the presence of green flecks that are unaccounted for in the ingredient list. Well, Mrs. McGoldrick tells to "garnish with parsley." We had no fresh parsley, but I mixed in some dried flakes in case it made a flavor difference.
The ornamental bacon is a crucial component of this recipe. Before crowning the boulettes with bacon, the orange balls unassuming, and perhaps a bit dull. But just look at how cute they are after! This was more than worth the bother of getting out a knife and cutting board after scissors failed to cut the bacon finely enough.
Also, Mrs. McGoldrick was right on the money when it came to how many bacon slices were required to properly bedeck the boulettes. If you carefully pick the fallen bacon pieces off of the pan, you will find you have exactly enough for one batch of potato balls. Mrs. McGoldrick tells us to "brown in a moderate oven (375 degrees F.) for 12 minutes." These didn't brown at all (even after 25 minutes), though the bacon did get crispy and start sizzling again.
As for the taste: these were pretty good mashed sweet potatoes. But I forgot that when the Inquirer printed Mrs. McGoldrick's recipe in 1935, grocery stores didn't sell unsalted butter yet. I thought the bacon would bring enough salt to the tops of these, but I was incorrect. A light sprinkling of salt on top (just a little) really made these pop. Suddenly they were everything Mrs. McGoldrick promised when she called them "delicious and a good change in potatoes." Also, as aforementioned, they were so cute!
Quantity misgivings aside, this is a very easy to make smashed sweet spuds cute without adding scads of butter and sugar to them. And if you pop the sweet potatoes into the microwave instead of boiling them and also have leftover bacon at hand, this recipe is so quick to put together.