We buy apple cider from our local farm store all fall and winter.  We drink it cold and hot, and I use it frequently in cooking — its flavor melds nicely with root vegetables, winter squash, and bitter greens, and it’s the secret ingredient in my favorite braised pork shoulder.  Cider has just enough acid to give simple sweet potatoes a little zip (fresh orange juice works well, too, though it’s more assertive) — a pinch of salt and pepper and a turn in the food processor and it’s done.

I like to keep pureed sweet potatoes on hand in my fridge.  They’re a great side dish for everything from beans to lamb, the kids will always eat them, and they can dress up a simple soup, muffin, cornbread, or even waffle on a whim.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Apple Cider

Yield:  Serves 8

4 lbs. sweet potatoes (aobut 5 big ones)

1/2 – 3/4 c. apple cider

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prick each sweet potato with a fork and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours (time will vary depending on size of potatoes), or until a knife inserted into potato meets with no resistance.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and slip off skins.  Whip them in a food processor with salt, pepper, and cider as needed for a smooth puree (drier potatoes will absorb more cider).  Alternatively, you can just mash the potatoes with a fork — I like it this way, but the kids are turned off by the slight stringiness.