Potato gratin, or potato dauphinoise to some, has always been a staple requested dish for special occasions in our house. Layers of tender potato baked in a creamy sauce topped with lots of cheese, what’s not to love?! On Christmas Eve it’s become tradition for it to be served alongside a huge brown sugar crusted ham joint, it’s made for birthday meals at home, anniversaries etc. I’ve watched it being made so many times that the first time I made it at home, I didn’t need to look at a recipe or ask how to make it, it’s basically been ingrained in my brain (shame this doesn’t correlate to anything more useful like uni work huh).
So as with most things, I had to put my own spin on it, and having already bought a bag of sweet potatoes, it seemed logical. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals – surprisingly they actually contain more potassium than bananas. As well as being high in fibre (all important for proper poop mechanics), they’re a brilliant source of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, essential for a healthy immune system, skin and eyes. Ever heard the old wives tale of carrots making you see in the dark? Yep, that’s because 1) carrots are also high in beta carotene and 2) due to the strong link between beta carotene and healthy vision. Unfortunately, they don’t actually give you night vision, but the promise of a superpower as a child was a great way to get you to eat them, wasn’t it?
Health benefits aside, sweet potatoes taste amazing. A food can be the ‘healthiest’ food out there – as though a food can be quantifiably ‘healthy’ though. “Sweet potatoes are 5 healthies, but peanut butter is only 4 healthies”. Doesn’t quite sound logical, does it?! Logicality and ‘healthies’ aside, if a food doesn’t taste good, then what’s the point? Food is to both fuel and to enjoy. There’s so much you can do with food that there’s really no excuse, or reason, for forcing yourself to eat bland food day in day out, however many healthies you might’ve earned yourself. Add a bit of cheese, paprika and creativity to these humble orange tubers (no, not YouTuber’s, sweet potatoes are root tubers) and hey presto, just one way to make them a bit more interesting.
- 750g (4 medium) sweet potato
- 180g (2 medium) red onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 500ml stock of choice (I used beef)
- 100g medium fat cream cheese
- 70g cheddar or parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 200C. Have a square baking dish ready to hand.
- Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes, peel and slice the onions, and the garlic if you don’t have a garlic crusher. Using a mandolin or a blade attachment on a food processor, slice the sweet potatoes.
- Heat the oil in a large non stick frying pan or wok and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened. Use a splash of water if needed to deglaze the pan and get all of the caramelised goodness off the bottom. Add the sweet potato slices and toss to mix it all together. Give the pan a shake to level out the potato slices as evenly as you can.
- Stir the paprika into the hot stock and pour over the potatoes. Bring to the boil before covering with a lid and turning the heat down to a medium simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Scoop out the potatoes and onions into the baking dish, leaving behind the remaining stock in the pan. To the remaining stock, stir in the cream cheese until smooth and add enough hot water so that you have a very thin consistency – similar to whole milk. Pour this over the potato and onion and shake the dish to level it out as much as you can. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.