While many of my friends love to do that whole "meal prep" thing with the sea of identical tupperware containers strewn about the kitchen, I like to prep ingredients instead. I'm in the process of describing this strategy in great detail in an upcoming book, but the original inspiration for it has kind of come from the thrifty homespun genius of my great grandmothers who gracefully weathered national economic turmoil and uncertain times. I express this in my own cooking by making the most out of the best things I can possibly find. While not everyone will be willing or able to eschew meal planning in the way that I have, I'd like to show how I make the most of a sale on something I love, or how to take full advantage when a particularly good crop of a fruit, veggie or extremely delicious cut of meat is available.
I found this method of sweet potato cooking when I wanted to prepare a base for some muffins. Actually Click here for the muffins recipe and story... there's even more options of what you can make them from.
Anyway, while I only eat carbs in moderation, I do enjoy the occasional sweet potato or sweet potato side dish when I'm very active or working towards a specific strength goal. Having some pre-cooked sweet potato mash on hand is an easy way to add a measured amount to meals. If I am going to have sweet potatoes in their skins, I also like to make sure to choose small "single serving size" potatoes or yams. Those cook faster than the potatoes in this recipe, but you can easily adjust the cooking time. If you are one of those Tupperware fiends, you could even cook up a large batch of mini sweet potatoes or yams to use instead of whatever your starch was in your meals.
OK! Go ahead and make your life easier by choosing 2-3inch diameter sweet potatoes or yams. Also, see if you can choose a batch of them that are approximately the same length, width, etc. They'll cook at the same rate that way. Do this right at the store! I like to at least cook 2 lbs of sweet potatoes or yams at a time, but if you have a larger oven, and plenty of room, you could make more.
Clean and dry the sweet potatoes/yams and prick them with a fork just a few times evenly. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the lowest rack (NOT the floor of the oven) then place the sweet potatoes or yams right on the middle rack - be sure that the foil is underneith to catch the few drips of potato lava. I have an olde fashioned non-self-cleaning oven so I'm sure to check!
Close the door, and now--and only now--set the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. That's right - no preheating!
If you chose the size of sweet potatoes or yams that I recommended then you'll let them bake for about 45 minutes. After that time, simply turn the oven off and they'll coast to a perfectly cooked stop in 30 more minutes. Sometimes I let them sit in there a little longer, the skins nearly fall off at that point and it's so easy to use them in recipes... like the muffins. Click here for the muffins!