The slow cooker is perfect for so many dishes — many of which seem to get better the longer they cook. A pork shoulder recipe can be left in there long past the point where the meat is done, for example. Bone broth can be left to simmer for days, removing broth and adding water as necessary.
But not everything that can be prepared in a slow cooker will benefit from stretching the cooking time beyond the point of doneness. Whereas many meats will become even more tender with a couple of extra hours, other foods will fall apart and turn to mush. Sweet potatoes, like most vegetables, are one of those where the time limit does matter.
So, how long should sweet potatoes be allowed to linger in a slow cooker? That can depend on whether you are cooking them whole or cut up into chunks. Chunks run more of a risk of breaking down than those left whole in their skins. But generally speaking, six to eight hours on low will do the trick. If dealing with extra large whole sweet potatoes, cooking blogger Laura Fuentes recommends using the high setting and letting them go all day.
The Fork Test
Okay, true, that two hour window still leaves quite a bit of range. So, how do know whether you should aim for closer to six or eight? It's mostly a matter of taste (and size). If you want your sweet potatoes to be on the firmer side, aim for the shorter end of the range. The only way to know for sure is to check on them, of course.
But wait, aren't you supposed to leave the lid on your slow cooker the whole time? That is true for the bulk of the cooking time, yes. It is important to keep the cooker at a uniform temperature, especially with meat. In this case, however, a little flexibility is the key to getting sweet potatoes just right.
True, some of the steam will escape — so get that check over with as quickly as possible. Which will be easy to do, since all it takes is a little fork test. Simply pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork at the six-hour mark. If they're not done yet, gauge how much longer they need at that point. Check on them again in another half-hour or hour, but just be aware that each time the lid opens, it will likely add a few more minutes to the cooking time.
So Many Options
Sweet potatoes aren't just for holidays and desserts. The starchy vegetable is a lot more versatile than many people realize. While candied sweet potatoes are a mainstay, the colorful tubers are also delicious in savory dishes as well. They make a fun and tasty substitution for regular potatoes in a pot roast. Baked whole, brown sugar and butter isn't the only option. The usual loaded baked potato toppings work just as well. For the sake of variety, try a yummy sweet potato curry.
These nutritional powerhouses are perfect for the slow cooker's combination of direct and moist heat. So, why not take advantage and let the slow cooker do the heavy lifting with each of these tasty options? Whether going for sweet or savory, slow-cooked sweet potatoes just can't be beat. Don't be surprised if, once you give the slow cooker a try, you find yourself seeking out more sweet potato recipes.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.