North Carolina native James Villas knows sweet potatoes. He praises Louisiana's contributions to that vegetable: the state's grading system; the Beauregard, his favorite variety; and this satisfying hash, made by Louisiana cooks who serve it for breakfast as well as supper.
He says it's not necessary to peel any potatoes for this recipe; just clean them well and remove any eyes or spots.
We adapted his recipe by substituting nonfat half-and-half for the full-fat variety, saving fat and calories without sacrificing flavor or texture. Serve with corn bread.
- 2 to 3 medium (24 ounces) sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, breasts-only (without tenderloins)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded, cored and finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 scallions, white and tender green parts, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup nonfat half-and-half
Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large pan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, poach the chicken: Cut the breasts in half vertically, place them in a large skillet and add just enough water (or low-sodium chicken broth) to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked through and tender. Drain, transfer to a work surface and cut into 1/2 -inch cubes. Set aside.
Drain the potatoes and set aside.
Clean out the skillet and place the butter in it to melt over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the vegetables have softened. Add the paprika and the dried thyme, crumbling it between your fingers, then the salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine for 1 minute. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, scallions, parsley and half-and-half. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the hash is thickened and "tight."
From James Villas's "The Glory of Southern Cooking" (Wiley, $34.95).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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