Christmas dinner in Peru has a lot in common with Thanksgiving in the US: stuffed turkey, baked sweet potatoes with marshmallows, applesauce, festive and colorful rice dishes, salads bursting with greens, apples, raisins, and nuts… and of course, many desserts on top of panetón (panettone) and the traditional hot chocolate at midnight (despite it being summer in South America). Some families choose roasted pork, or even chicken for their menu, but even in these cases they serve them with very similar side dishes.
To make this tasty side dish, choose the apples you like best. Granny Smith are my favorite because they have the perfect acidity to balance the flavors and cut the intensity of the sweet potatoes. But any kind is good, as long as they don´t fall apart while baking (you want beautiful baked apples, not mushy and messy ones).
And if you want to make this for dessert, omit the salt and pepper in the mash (or add just a very tiny pinch of salt) and add a little more sugar instead. They will be perfect!
PS: I don´t recommend that you bake the apples in advance, because they are at their best when freshly baked.
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Salt and pepper
- 8 apples, green and red, peeled and cored
- ½ cup honey
- 6 tablespoons water
- Cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- Wash and cook the sweet potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover until they are tender. Peel them and pass them through a ricer or mash them with a potato masher.
- Add orange zest and juice, sugar, butter, nutmeg, milk, salt and pepper. Combine well and reserve.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
- Core the apples and make a large hole in the center with a melon baller. Fill them with the sweet potatoes, and place them in a baking pan.
- In a small bowl mix honey and water. Pour over the apples with the cinnamon sticks and the star anise, and bake for 45 minutes, basting with the cooking juices every 15 minutes or so, until tender.