Sweet potato croquettes and taking risks on Thanksgiving

It’s during this time of year that we all start to get a little high on the blood pressure when it comes to planning the Thanksgiving meal. I know of friends that plan weeks ahead of time and channel their inner Martha Stewart for hosting inspiration. Others will make things on-the-fly and decide the day before what the menu will be (yes, the day before!). And of course, some of those last-minute folks will present a show-stopping meal that puts those Martha Stewart groupies to shame.

Where do you lie on the scale of planning & hosting? We’re somewhere in the middle, with plenty of risk taking sprinkled on top.

Yes, we’ll have our stand-by favorites of potatoes-au-gratin, rib-eye steaks and roast turkey. Toss in the Vietnamese side of the family’s noodles with fish sauce with grilled pork and what you have is an un-conventional yet somewhat traditional Turkey day. It’s a feast for the open-minded and food loving eaters.

But it’s not to say that our menu is always filled with the same cast of characters. Every year we like to take some risks for the food show and throw in a few dishes that we’ll decide on-the-fly or something that is completely new and out of the ordinary. Thanksgiving is so much more fun when you take risks in the kitchen.

This year is going to be the year of the sweet potato. We rarely add a sweet potato dish to the spread because Todd’s creamy potatoes-au-gratin is such a hit, no one dares to take him on with a competing root dish. Besides, I don’t think anyone wants to eat any other potato than “Todd’s potatoes”. Or in my Mother’s way of saying it, “Tott’s dewicious potato”. She still can’t pronounce his name right after 17 years!

I’m taking a risk this year and throwing in a new potato to the ring. There won’t be a battle because my potato dish will be of sweet potatoes and it’ll be different. Yup, what ever it is, it’ll be different and “dewicious”.

Now that I know I want to have a sweet potato dish, what recipe is it going to be?

My inspiration and perfectly timed answer came from a lovely new cookbook from author Lorna Yee, The Everyday Wok Cookbook.

Now wait, I wasn’t expecting to find Thanksgiving inspiration in a wok cookbook. Not at all. What I was expecting was to find were some great tips on how to cook with a wok and to find some classic Asian dishes that often are made better in a wok. This book certainly taught me so much about how to choose and how to season a wok. Done.

But beyond the traditional Chinese recipes, Lorna teaches you how to make some popular American dishes such as buttermilk fried chicken, mac-and-cheese and messy po’ boy sandwiches. Again, all made in a wok. Wow. She makes cooking with the wok so much fun and even if you don’t have a wok, the recipes are easy to make in a skillet and are all are so useful throughout the year.

As I started flipping the pages, I found some incredible Thanksgiving and Holiday-perfect recipes such as creamed spinach with parmesan, marsala glazed mushrooms, roasted fingerling potatoes with bacon and greens, and slow cooked collard greens. I was not expecting all these recipes in the least bit. What a pleasant surprise.

And best of all, I found my prize dish to take my Thanksgiving-risk to the table—sweet potato croquettes! These are perfect for my turkey day contribution. It’s made from mashed sweet potato, salty pancetta, hints of fresh sage and then coated in panko bread crumbs and fried to a crisp. Say that ten times fast.

How can anyone NOT want to eat one of these sweet potato croquettes? I’m certain Todd will have to take me seriously now when it comes to contributing a dish to rival his potatoes-au-gratin. It’s all friendly, uh….. competition here.

Move over potatoes-au-gratin and make room for these perfectly crispy, slightly-savory, sweet potato croquettes. No fear here for Thanksgiving. So, take that.

I’m feeling a little dangerous and so should you.

hugs,

diane

Pancetta & Sweet Potato Croquettes

Yield: Serves 6

Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Recipe from The Everyday Wok Cookbook by Lorna Yee and shared with permission from Sasquatch Books. The book and recipe chronicles the beautiful versatility of the wok, however don't let not having a wok keep you from making the recipes. They can easily be made in your favorite pans. Don't skip the chilling part after mixing the ingredients or else they will be difficult to handle. If you have to speed things up, use an ice cream scoop, and scoop out balls onto a plate and place in freezer for about 30 minutes or until firmer and easier to handle.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. (114g) Pancetta or Bacon, cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 3 cups (600g) cooked & mashed Yam or Sweet Potato
  • 2 Tablespoons (28g) Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Sage
  • Kosher Salt & fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 Egg

For the Breading

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups (160g) Panko
  • Vegetable Oil for deep frying

Directions:

  1. Fry the pancetta in a wok over medium heat until crisp and golden. Scoop out the pancetta with a slotted spoon and drain in a sieve over a mixing bowl. Reserve 2 Tablespoons of the drippings and discard the rest.
  2. To the drippings, add the yam, pancetta, brown sugar, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the egg. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours before proceeding.
  3. After the mixture has chilled, scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls and roll them between your hands to form 1-inch balls. Place the balls on a lined baking sheet.
  4. To make the breading, in a shallow dish, beat the eggs until thoroughly liquid. Place the panko in a separate dish.
  5. Roll each ball first in the panko, then in the egg wash, then again in the panko, shaking off the excess panko and letting the excess egg wash drip off. Repeat until all the croquettes are coated.
  6. In a wok, heat 2 inches of oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium, or until the oil just maintains a simmer. Fry the croquettes in batches until golden brown, 1 or 2 minutes per side. Remove the croquettes with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Debbie

    Have you ever made these the day before, refrigerated and then reheated in the oven to regain the crispness?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      We haven’t yet. That would probably work fine, or else you could also crisp them up on a skillet with a touch of oil too.

  2. Serge

    I love this and many other recipes… and even though I am a pure-vegetarian (I do not eat meat, fish, eggs, no onions or garlic, leeks etc., I can easily substitute some items for veg ones. I would like to ask if you can include in your site a function that allows the person to click and print? It would be very practical, thank you very much.

  3. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    Mmm, these look pretty tasty. I’ve actually moved away from doing a standard potato dish. This year I served a sweet potato mash (made with both sweet potatoes and yams) and a sweet potato crunch (made with just yams). One is savory and one is sweet.

  4. Isa

    I think all of my recipes for this year a a little experimental – my boyfriend thinks I’m going over the top. We’ll see!

    La Saloperie Holiday Special

  5. Bill Nadeau

    diane,

    your recipe says to roll up the croquette into a ball to put in the wash & panko, but the pictures show flat croquettes. when does the ball become flat like a pancake?? thak you! looks ymmy and will prepare for Thanksgiving lunch before the big feast.

    Bill (Hiroyuki)

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Bill- we experimented and made different types of shapes: big, small, flat, round. Two of them show in the top picture. But we should have mentioned it in the recipe. So if you make it, you can keep it round or flat. Do what ever your heart desires. Thanks for the heads-up!

  6. Lisa Mai @ Je suis alimentageuse

    Oh my goodness. These look phenomenal. I’ve never had or made croquettes before, but I definitely want to now. Do you have any suggestions as to what to add instead of pancetta for the vegetarians out there?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Lisa Mai- These croquettes are delicious even without the pancetta, so don’t feel that you even need it in there. For other possible vegetarian additions to make these extra flavorful, you could add some sauteed green onions or mushrooms!

  7. Holdthegross

    “great!” not “great?”

  8. Holdthegross

    Thses look great? Do you think they would pair well with goat cheese?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Holdthegross- yes, goat cheese would probably be a wonderful pairing!

  9. Kevin @ Closet Cooking

    Those croquettes look perfectly golden brown and good! I like the pancetta and sweet potato combo!

  10. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    That’s a new-to-me-cookbook – thanks for sharing it. And the croquettes turned out beautifully!

    I love the story about your mom, Tott’s name <– and pronunciation 17 years later. Too cute :)

  11. Shut Up & Cook | The Attainable Gourmet

    Stunning as always! But I imagine these would be a little labor intensive for Thanksgiving crowds, eh? Probably better to save them all for myself the day after. :-)

    Happy Friday!

  12. Gerry @ Foodness Gracious

    Maybe you could make “Tott’s” spuds mysteriously disappear or burn perhaps, then you save the whole entire day by producing the sweet potatoes from heaven…it’s worth a try but I think there’s room for two recipes ;)
    Have a great weekend!

  13. saVUryandsweet

    Hi Diane! I’m a planner :) You should just see my excel spreadsheets… it’s a little ridiculous. This year my family was going to ditch turkey for bun bo hue, but luckily I’m going to do a Vietnamese-insprired Thanksgiving, I guess you can call this risk taking? As for moms not being able to pronounce your significant other’s name, I feel your pain. My mom calls my husband Phil, “thang feel”. Have a lovely thanksgiving!!

  14. Ashley

    These need to happen this weekend. Anything with a crunchy coating is sure to be a winner, especially when it involves sweet potatoes.

  15. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    These sound perfect!

  16. Pam

    What a great variety of recipes in a wok book!

  17. Rachel (Two Healthy Plates)

    These look incredible – especially the part where you add pancetta =) Happy Friday!

  18. Lauren Smith

    YUMMY!!! I love all things sweet potato. Lovely recipe and really good photography on those pictures. I can almost tatste them! I am new to cooking and I will be the first to admit that sometimes my good intentions with recipes don’t always turn out. A great resource for people like me is a cookbook called, “Holly Clegg’s trim&TERRIFIC KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence” by author Holly Clegg. This a how to book on cooking, which includes tools, tips and recipes for anyone who wants to learn how to improve their cooking. http://www.hollyclegg.com

  19. Cate

    I’m usually an obsessive planner when I cook the Thanksgiving meal, except for one year when a good friend had to cancel her trip home due to a medical emergency… and Thanksgiving is her very favorite holiday/meal.

    Since she was in no shape to do any cooking I ended up making the full meal totally last minute and everything turned out fine. Made me wonder why I stress about it for several weeks in advance every other year though!

  20. Jennie

    Why couldn’t you post this recipe while I was there so I could request it?! I did at least get to try your dumplings and egg rolls…this just means you can expect another visit from me in 2013.
    xo, Jennie

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