I could eat sweet potatoes everyday. I could eat them baked, mashed, boiled, or fried. I could eat them drizzled with honey, topped with sausage, or baked into bread. As far as I am concerned sweet potatoes are the perfect food. They’re healthy, they’re tasty, and they can be prepared in an infinite number of ways. My default sweet potato recipe is to cube them, toss with some olive oil, salt, cayenne, a pinch of rosemary and roast until soft in the middle and crisp on the outside. These sweet potato croquettes are kind of like a more sophisticated, more refined, version of this dish. Soft, pillowy mashed spuds are mixed with goodies like scallions and ground almonds then rolled into balls and dipped in crunchy panko crumbs. The best part? There’s cheese! Traditionally potato croquettes are fried. I considered taking this route, I really did. I figured if there was was ever a time to eat fried foods, the week of the Super Bowl was it. In the end though, I couldn’t do it. Partly because I felt guilty about the prospect of vilifying these healthy little potato balls by subjecting them to a hot oil bath, but mostly because it just seemed like too much work. And too much mess, and too much potential for failure, and burning myself. So I baked them instead…and they were wonderful!
Sweet Potato and Almond Croquettes
Makes about 16 two-inch balls
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons scallion, minced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1. Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a medium pot. Fill with enough water so the potatoes are almost submerged and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
2. Remove from heat, drain and place in a large bowl. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher until smooth. Add butter, scallions, cheese, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Taste and add more salt if needed. Pulse the almonds in the food processor until they are finely ground. Add to the potato mixture along with the flour and egg. Stir until the egg is completely mixed into the other ingredients. Place in the fridge for about half and hour to cool (or if you’re impatient like me stick it in the freezer for about 10 minutes). You know the potato mixture is cold enough when you can form it into a ball.
3. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Place the panko in a wide shallow bowl. Form the chilled potato mixture into balls and roll in the panko. I found that the best method for a nice crispy crust was to roll it once pressing the panko into the potato and then roll again to coat the outside.
4. Place the potato balls on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes. The outside will be lightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.