Smoked Sweet Potato: a loaded, smoked sweet potato for the ages

The Trashed Sweet Potato: smoked sweet potato with the works

I just recently started liking sweet potatoes, specifically smoked sweet potatoes.  I had this weird aversion to them as a kid, but as an adult, I’m finding (as with other foods) that I’m liking them much more.

This particular recipe is sure to be an autumn classic; to top it off, it’s vegetarian, so your less-carnivorous friends will certainly be able to enjoy this. It makes use of apples, onions, and green peppers to make the topping, and we applied some food science from our friends at America’s Test Kitchen to get the most flavor out of the sweet potato.

The Origin

This is another recipe inspired by the Acquisitions Intoxicated Twitch show. The Penny Arcade crew designed a beer for Holly Conrad’s character, Stryx the Trash Witch. (Go listen to the podcast here and here, and watch her at PAX West to see how awesome she is with this character and cosplay.) The beer, a monstrous Imperial Stout (and I mean “monstrous” in a complimentary way) lends itself to pairing with a more rustic plate. As Holly is vegetarian, I went that route with this recipe, and the Trashed Sweet Potato was born.

The Science

The trick to getting the best flavor out of the sweet potato is to allow it to cook at a near-boiling temperature for some time so that the water held inside evaporates, and the flavors have time to condense into a complex, caramelesque pallet. As with most things on a smoker, this will take some time, but the wait will be well worth it.

Crank It Up

If you want to elevate this to another level, season the apples and onions with Saint Brian’s BBQ Zombie Blend spice rub prior to grilling. The Caribbean jerk spices will really brighten up the flavors, and will add another layer of complexity to the whole dish.

Print Recipe
Smoked Sweet Potato: a loaded, smoked sweet potato for the ages
A sweet potato, smoked to perfection, and loaded with a tasty apple hash
smoked-sweet-potato
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
smoked-sweet-potato
Instructions
  1. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the water and salt in a bowl and stir until the salt is mostly dissolved. (Slightly warming the water will help with this process.)
  3. Prick the sweet potatoes 3 times with a fork, turn a quarter turn, and repeat until you've pricked it 12 times. Roll the potatoes in the brine.
  4. Place the sweet potatoes on the smoker, and insert a remote probe into one of them. Add your desired wood to start creating smoke. (For this recipe, I used pecan.) The goal here is to get the sweet potatoes to 200 degrees internal temperature (this takes about 2 hours), and then hold them there for an hour.
  5. Core and slice the apples into 1/2" slices. Peel the outer skin off of the onion, and slice into 1/2" rings, keeping the cross section of the onions intact.
  6. Heat your grill or barbecue to high, and set up for direct grilling. Oil the grates, and place the apple slices, onion slices, and bell peppers on the grill. Cook apples and onions until just they just start to caramelize, about 4 minutes per side. Grill the peppers until the skin blisters, turning to get an even cook on all sides.
  7. Finely mince the peppers and onion. Finely chop the apples. Toss in a bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  8. When the sweet potatoes have been smoked at 200 degrees internal temperature for one hour, remove them and immediately cut a "x" into the top. This will allow the steam to escape and prevent the flesh from getting waterlogged and soggy.
  9. After allowing the sweet potatoes to cool for 10 minutes, gently open the skin some more so that there is exposed flesh and a place for the hash. Spoon the hash onto the flesh, and sprinkle on the Gruyere. Place back on the grill for 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve hot.
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Smoked Mac ‘n Cheese

Smoked Mac ‘n Cheese: smoke + not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 cheeses = perfection

I love macaroni and cheese. It’s comfort food. It’s great on a rainy, fall day. It’s great as a midnight snack.

This recipe takes the normal recipe for macaroni and cheese (cook macaroni, add cheese, devour) and adds some additional elements: 4 different cheeses, plus a kiss of wood smoke. If you haven’t had smoked mac ‘n cheese yet, well, I just feel sorry for you. You clearly aren’t living your best life.

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Smoked Mac 'n Cheese
Smoky, cheesy goodness with an awesome crunchy crust
smoked-mac-n-cheese
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
servings
Ingredients
smoked-mac-n-cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook the elbow macaroni al dente, according to the package instructions. Pour the macaroni into a foil pan or a similar receptacle that can survive your smoker.
  3. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the milk, and bring to a boil. Add the cream cheese, and melt, whisking often, until sauce is creamy.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat. Immediately stir in the shredded cheeses, and adding salt and pepper to taste. You must move quickly here, as if you take too long, the sauce will become very difficult to work with as it cools.
  5. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and stir to coat evenly. Pour the bread crumbs on top, forming an even layer.
  6. Place the pan, uncovered, into the smoker, and add your desired wood chips. (For this recipe, I used a combination of pecan and whiskey barrel chips.) Smoke for 30-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbly.
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Long Road Chili: Smoked pork belly chili

Smoked Pork Belly Chili: the crown jewel of autumn

Rain has plagued your journey down the Long Road. For days, you have slogged along, some days in a light mist, others a torrent that almost obscured your hand before your face. The air carried a constant chill. The brilliantly colored leaves stood in stark contrast against a slate sky. When you finally found shelter and a warm fire, a bowl of delicious smoked pork belly chili was waiting for you. Your bones were warmed; the journey was worth it for this savory bite.

This dish is meant to be shared, as it yields over a dozen cups. It’s perfect for tailgating, or sharing with friends while sessioning some new microbrews.

Recipe Notes

I would recommend playing with the spice rubs; this was made with Dash Cunning, but you could easily substitute any of the other rubs, and it would be just as good, albeit with a different taste profile.

For the beer in this pork belly chili, I used Elysium Immortal IPA, though you could substitute just about any beer you want. Please, for the love of little apples, use good beer, preferably a local microbrew or respected brewery. Don’t subject your food, mouth, or liver, to bad beer.

This is another dish inspired by the Acquisitions Intoxicated series on Twitch (Tuesdays, 12 noon PCT). I highly recommend it.  And I believe that Jerry Holkins’ (@TychoBrahe) reaction to the dish says it all:

Print Recipe
Long Road Chili: Smoked pork belly chili in your belly
pork-belly-chili
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
pork-belly-chili
Instructions
  1. Cut diagonal slits through the skin on the pork belly, 1" apart, then cut intersecting slits at the same spacing so that you create an "X" pattern. Take care not to cut into the fat. This is to allow the rub to penetrate more of the meat.
  2. Cover the pork belly with the Spice Rub.
  3. Heat your smoker to 250 degrees. If your setup includes some kind of liquid pan, add 2 bottles of beer (these are over and above the beer called for in the recipe). Put the pork belly in the smoker, and add the wood of your choice, according to the smoker instructions.
  4. Smoke the pork belly until it reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from the heat, and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
While the pork belly is smoking
  1. Prepare your other ingredients.
Once the pork has completed its rest
  1. Chop the pork belly up into 1/2" chunks.
  2. In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the pork belly. Cook until the fat renders and the pork belly has browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef and ground pork. Add some salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  4. Add the peppers and the onions. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until onions start to become translucent and begin to brown.
  5. Add the garlic. With a spoon, push the ingredients in the pot to the sides to expose the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the beer to deglaze the pot, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits off the bottom. Redistribute the ingredients and stir. Cook until the beer has reduced by about half.
  6. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and beans. Return to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste along the way, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  7. Mix the water, masa harina, and chili powder into a thick paste.
  8. When the chili has cooked down, slowly add in the masa harnina paste. This will start tot thicken the chili.
  9. If you desire thicker chili, start adding in the corn starch 1 teaspoon at a time and stirring in, allowing to incorporate. Take your time with this, as if you add too much in, the chili can get too thick.
  10. Cut the tops off of the rolls, and carefully dig out the insides, taking care not to pierce the outside of the crust.
  11. Heat your grill to high. (If you don't have a grill handy, you can use a broiler with the shelf set to the highest placement.) Place the bread, hole side down, on the grill (or facing up if using the broiler). Toast the roll.
  12. Fill the bread bowls with chili. Add a few pieces of plucked cilantro, and a teaspoon of sour cream. Squeeze a 1/8" slice of lime onto the chili. Add cheese, if desired.
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