- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Cooking out with family and friends is a favorite choice for diners at this time of year. When it comes to choosing what to cook, foods that exemplify the taste of summer come to mind first. To make the menu more fun, here’s an idea for combining some of those familiar ingredients to make a versatile new side dish.

It’s a grilled sweet potato recipe that also calls for fresh peaches, brown sugar and baked beans, and it’s been dreamed up by chef Jack McDavid, owner of two restaurants in Philadelphia, the Down Home Diner and Jack’s Firehouse.

Mr. McDavid’s menus feature regional American cuisine. He says this dish has something old and something new, and he thinks of the combination as a Southern twist.

“I’ve been serving sweet potatoes combined with many different foods, and baked beans combined with many different foods, so it just seemed natural to try them together,” he says.

Sweet potatoes are trendy these days, Mr. McDavid says. “You can find them all over because of their availability. Farming technology has improved across the country, and now sweet potatoes can be enjoyed all year round.” He thinks they have a lot more flavor than carrots or white potatoes, too, and grilling intensifies their flavor.

In this dish, he says, he likes the combination of ingredients because “salty foods like bacon, and sweet foods like sweet potatoes and peaches meld together and blend well with the texture of baked beans.”

Cookouts are an ideal occasion for serving the dish, he says. He’s noticed that people are increasingly preparing food beforehand and then grilling the final pieces when guests arrive.

Serve the grilled potatoes with lemon- or citrus-flavored pork, chicken or white fish (such as snapper or large mouth bass). “Basil or grilled fruits would also be a great addition with this recipe,” Mr. McDavid suggests.

Grilled stuffed sweet potatoes

This recipe was created by Mr. McDavid.

The preparation time is 10 minutes, and the cooking time is 30 minutes.

4 medium sweet potatoes

28-ounce can country-style baked beans

2 peaches, sliced

cup diced onion

3 bacon strips, cooked and chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wash potatoes and pierce potato skin several times with a knife. Place potatoes on paper towels and microwave on high power for 10 minutes or until soft (see note).

Cut eight 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Slice potatoes in half and scoop out small portion of potato to make a narrow boat, reserving the scooped-out potato. Place one potato half on each foil square. In a bowl, mix baked beans, peaches, onion, bacon and reserved sweet potato; season to taste with salt and pepper. Place mixture in the potato cavities, dividing evenly among the eight halves.

Bring up top and bottom edges of foil around each potato half, leaving a little space for steam expansion during cooking. Seal foil around potatoes, and place wrapped potatoes on the grill. Cook 20 minutes over indirect heat, or until warmed throughout. Makes 8 servings.

Note: To grill potatoes, as an alternative for microwaving, pierce potatoes with a fork, wrap in foil and grill over medium heat for 1 hour


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