generous pinch of sea salt
1 sweet potato
1/3 to 1/2 stick butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Fill a medium pot half full of water. Add a generous pinch of sea salt. Turn on the heat and wait for the water to boil.
While the water is heating, peel the sweet potato and cut it into bite-sized chunks. Once the water boils, add the sweet potato chunks. Boil for about 15 minutes, until soft.
Drain most of the water. Add 1/3 to 1/2 stick butter and 1/8 cup brown sugar. Stir gently until they melt. A thick glaze should form. Add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine.
Serve hot. One sweet potato makes 2-4 servings.
This recipe is very flexible. You can easily increase the amount or vary the flavors.
Sea salt has a complex flavor that works well in this recipe. You could also use any pink salt, or plain table salt if that's all you have. Don't overdo it. If you "salt like the sea," your yams will get too salty also.
Sweet potatoes are big orange tubers with plenty of natural sugar, so they don't need a lot more. You could also use African yams. If you don't like them too soft, shorten the cooking time to leave them al dente. They release starch into the water, so including a little of that in the glaze helps it stick together.
Butter forms the base of the glaze in this recipe, making it creamy. If you don't want to use dairy butter, consider nondairy alternatives such as margarine, nut butter, halva, coconut oil/milk. You just need to get some yummy fat in there.
Brown sugar is rich and moist with caramel notes. This recipe uses much less than most candied yams. You may substitute molasses, honey, or maple syrup.
Pumpkin pie spice is a blend that typically contains some combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Apple pie spice is similar. You can also use any blend of sweet warming spices that you like. If you want to make it zestier, add cayenne or red pepper flakes.
Note that this recipe cooks the yams in one pot, which is quick and easy. Most recipes pre-cook the yams by boiling, but then transfer to a baking dish or a skillet. A large quantity of heavily sweetened liquid is poured over them, then reduced and caramelized to form the glaze. That version is a lot sweeter, and it also dirties two dishes, but some people prefer it. You can use this combination of flavors if you want to caramelize the glaze -- just add orange juice or another sweet liquid for the reduction phase.
Furthermore, all the ingredients in this recipe are cheap. The only one that's remotely perishable is the sweet potato, which is a good keeper. The result is a delicious, filling dish high in nutrients. So this is a great choice for a poorskills kitchen.