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Add el sabor de Mexico to your Thanksgiving table: Mexican baked yams

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This year, be adventuresome with one of your Thanksgiving staples... go South of the Border with your sweet potatoes! Here's how (quick and easy, different and delicious)!

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For this recipe from Tres Señoritas Gourmet Catering, buy piloncillo, cones of Mexican brown sugar, at Casa Lucas on 24th St. near Florida (also called panocha). Called Piloncillo (little loaf) because of the traditional shape in which this smoky, caramely and earthy sugar is produced; it has far more flavor than brown sugar, which is generally just white sugar with a small amount of molasses added back to it. Just like brown sugar, there are two varieties of piloncillo; one is lighter (blanco) and one darker (oscuro). Unrefined, it is commonly used in Mexico, where it has been around for at least 500 years. Made from crushed sugar cane, the juice is collected, boiled and poured into molds, where it hardens into blocks. Sold in the aforementioned markets by the pound (about $1/lb). It can be used in moles and other sauces, as well as to simply sweeten coffee, or for an authentic Mexican hot chocolate.

Camote al Horna estilo Mexicano recipe from Tres Señoritas Gourmet Catering

  • 6-8 sweet potatoes
  • 3 Mexican limes- Mexican vs. "Persian" limes: Did you know that what we often refer to as "key limes" are actually Mexican limes? Not simply the limes used for making the pies, or limes that grow only in the Florida Keys (actually primarily grown in the state of Sonora, Mexico and shipped to Florida) the key lime is a (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle) is in a class all of its own. “Much smaller than regular "Persian" limes, the key lime ranges in size from a ping-pong ball to a golf ball (about 10cm to16cm in circumference).The peel is thin, smooth and greenish-yellow when ripe. The interior is divided by 10 to 12 segments, quite juicy and has a higher acidity than regular Persian limes. Key limes have a very distinctive aroma, which makes them valuable for culinary use," this according to keylime.com. They are yellow when ripe but usually picked green, commercially.
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • fresh squeezed juice of 3 oranges
  • Mexican cinnamon (canela)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2 Piloncillo syrup (made using Mexican brown sugar- or substitue 1/4 cup brown sugar)

Bake yams as usual, 350° oven for 35 minutes or until almost tender at the center. Meanwhile, melt your piloncillo (you may want to break it into chunks by putting it in a double plastic baggie and pound using a meat hammer, or do as they do in Mexico and throw the baggie of piloncillo on the floor using some force as you do so) on top of the stove in a pot with a little water over a medium, watching that it doesn't seize up, adding a little water as needed until you achieve a syrupy texture. Add all other ingredients and bring all mixture to boil, lower heat and cook until you once again have a syrupy texture. Slit yams lengthwise and add syrup mixture; mash just a little with a fork, taking care not or break the skin of the yam further where you slit it. Continue baking for 10-15 minutes more, until tender through and through.

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