Grilled Sweet Potato Steak-Fries


Grilled Sweet Potato Steak FriesFact 1: Like most of you, we have but one oven in our kitchen. Whoever decided Thanksgiving needed to be a massive feast of turkey, ham and a plethora of side dishes and desserts (all of which require the use of an oven) surely ignored Fact 1.

Fact 2: At Thanksgiving (one of the top 3 holidays food-wise here in the US) everyone wants to help cook something. My wife wanted to make her famous cranberry apple crunch dessert, my mother in law needed to saute aromatics to add to her slow cooker stuffing recipe. Okay, that one didn’t need the oven, but it involved the stove top, practically the same thing. Then my daughter was making pumpkin pie -that one definitely used the oven. Thank goodness my son and his girlfriend were cooking the turkey at their place, otherwise we’d be doomed (refer back to fact 1.)

But wait – what about the sweet potatoes? A true staple of the late November holiday; it must be done. And I’m the only one left standing without a whisk or spatula.

Fact 3: Look outside. The barbecue grill is sitting there, beckoning you to fire it up and cook those darn sweet potatoes. Never mind the cold weather; that’s what coats, hats and gloves are for, right?

This recipe, taken from my upcoming cozy culinary mystery The Apple Pie Alibi (shameless plug)  was easy to make, tasted great and had little to clean up afterward. Look at the ladies inside and tell me you don’t appreciate that last one! Anyhow, try this sometime -and don’t wait until next Thanksgiving.

What you need to start:

9×12 glass baking dish or something of comparable size to serve the potatoes once they are done.

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges. I also cut the wedges in half (personal preference)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 gallon zip lock bag

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

Aluminium Foil

Outdoor grill

What to do:

Place the potato wedge halves in the baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the potatoes and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix together coating the entirety of the spuds.

Wash your hands. (Isn’t it fun to play with the food? I knew you didn’t use the wooden spoon! I didn’t, either.)

With dry hands, put all of the spices into the gallon zip lock bag. Close the bag tightly (well, yeah) and shake well.

Open the bag back up and put a good handful of the potato wedges inside. Close the bag back up and shake. Take the now-coated potato wedges and place in the baking dish. Repeat this operation until all of the potato wedges are seasoned. If your bag runs truly dry of spices, make a new batch. However, these amounts will last a while, even if the bag looks like it is empty. Judge by the potatoes coming out – not by the bag’s appearance.

Take your dish of seasoned potatoes outside to the grill. My grill is a gas-fueled version so I could just turn a knob and fire it up. If you are a traditionalist, I hope you have lit the charcoal well in advance. Maybe I should have mentioned this earlier, but I have to give you credit for grillmanship basics.

Place several sheets of aluminum foil over the grill grate to prevent the spuds from over-searing from direct contact with the flames. Now lay out the potato wedges on top of the foil, in a single layer. With the grill now fired up, close the lid and go back inside to witness the cacophony and help when possible. You can do it.

Ten minutes later, go back outside and using a spatula or tongs, flip the spuds over once. Close the lid and go back inside for a drink of wassail or something.

Take a paper towel and wipe out your baking dish. This will take most of the extraneous oil away, leaving you with a greased pan, perfect to serve the potatoes once they are finished baking. The treated surface of the baking dish will be just slick enough to keep the spuds from sticking to the pan.

By now (about ten minutes after the potato flip) it should be time to go back outside one more time and retrieve the now baked potato wedges. Place them in the baking dish and bring to the table. With luck there’s still room.

These potatoes are savory, with the sweetness coming mostly from the potato itself. No marshmallows required.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and thanks so much for keeping Exploding Potatoes in your bookmarks. And stay tuned for news about the first in a series of culinary mysteries, The Apple Pie Alibi. (Gotta end with another shameless plug, right?)

DJ sends.




The Ultimate (Leftover) Turkey Sandwich


Ultimate (Leftover) Turkey Sandwich

A variation of the turkey sandwich from the Chesapeake Bagel Shop, this is a great way to upgrade the inevitable turkey sandwich you will be making the day after Thanksgiving!   Use the focaccia bread (see previous post) for a savory, crunchy base.

For vegetarians (of all types,) as in 75 percent of my household, the sandwich is great without the turkey, too. Vegans can replace the lettuce wih bean sprouts and seasoned / baked tofu for the turkey. My wife just slapped some butter on the focaccia bread, grilled it on a skillet, then added the tomato along with a little Havarti cheese. She loved it. Everyone wins, except maybe the turkey 🙂 but that argument is for someone else’s blog.

Here’s what you do:

Slice about 3 inches of focaccia bread off of the loaf.  Then slice that piece in half, lengthwise forming two planks about a half inch thick or so.

Top the base with:

– shredded lettuce

– slice or two of tomato

– a little red onion slice, spread about

– cheddar cheese

– turkey (ahem…or other meat substitute)

– two or three pieces of crispy bacon (sorry vegans, can anything really replace bacon?)

The Ultimate (Leftover) Turkey Sandwich

Then spread a little cranberry jelly (or relish, even better) on the top plank of focaccia and top off the sandwich.

Viola!  You are ready to enjoy the savory bread, coupled with the sweet taste of the cranberry and the salty taste of the bacon.

Happy eating!

Kids, don’t try this at home…


You know how sometimes you can substitute one ingredient for another, and really, no one can tell the difference once the cooking is done? Well, it doesn’t always work out…

We had a “hankerin'” for pumpkin bread and lo and behold, AB had a nice looking recipe in one of his cookbooks. If you don’t own the Alton Brown series, you are missing out on some fun reading and some “Good Eats.”  But I digress…  I rummaged through the pantry cupboard and found nearly all required items, save one.  The recipe called for pumpkin.  Not the canned stuff you see in late October, early November, stacked to the hinterlands at your grocery store.  No, real grown on the vine pumpkin.

Due to a lawn mower gone amok earlier this summer, our fledgling pumpkin patch never really materialized.  “But that’s okay,” I said, reaching for the can of pumpkin pie filling.  “This will be a good substitute!”  Like it could have said on the can:  Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.   3 cups of pie filling do not equal 3 cups of pumpkin.

I won’t even put the recipe down here.  Do yourself a favor and get his book, but learn from my mistake. If the recipe says fresh pumpkin, get fresh pumpkin.  The canned stuff, which works great in quick-fix pies, did not do the trick.  The only way it might have a chance of it working is if you adjust the other ingredients,  flour perhaps, or tone down the amount of canned pumpkin.

You know it’s a bad sign when your wife says: “Man, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of your dishes end up so badly!”  This effort ended up right in the trash.

Kids, don’t try this at home…

Slow-Cooked Turkey – for those on the go!


This was a hit.  Less than ten minutes to prepare, cooked in the crock pot while I was at work, and less than ten minutes to make ready for the dinner plates.  Even clean-up was fast and easy!  Try it sometime and let me know what you think!


– Small Turkey (make sure it will fit in your crock pot…or use as an excuse to get a bigger cooker!)

– one half cup of water.

– just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bird.

– sun dried tomatoes, just a few – chopped up finely.

– to taste: minced garlic, chopped onion, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.


After washing and drying the turkey, place in slow-cooker, skin side up.  Make sure there are no gravy packets stuffed inside, or a wayward neck bone stuffed in the front.  I forgot to check once, and I still remember THAT smell…  Add the half cup of water to the pot. Coat the turkey lightly with olive oil.  Add the sun dried tomatoes, onion and spices to the skin, and don’t worry if some fall off, as long as they stay in the crock pot!  While it looks like you are seasoning the skin, you are really making the start of a good gravy!

Cover the crock pot; turn on low.  Come back 8 hours later. (I came back 9 hours later and it was just fine…)

Using large forks or tongs, pull the meat from the bones and place in a separate serving dish.  Once you have the all the meat in a serving dish, use a ladle or large spoon to transfer the remaining liquid to a sauce pan.  It is okay if some  meat, onion and tomato end up in there, too, but leave out the rest, as in the bones and fats, etc.  Bring to a low boil, add a little corn starch if you like, and you will have a nice, savory gravy.

Whatever is left in the crock pot is ready for the trash can.  Once cool, clean up is fast and easy!

Goes well with baked potatoes (make sure you poke them with a fork BEFORE baking…see title…and a green vegetable of your choice.  I used green beans.  Our 7 pound turkey made enough for over 10 dinner plates. I didn’t crunch the numbers, but dollar for dollar this looked to be the best buy as far as turkey. Heck, a pound of sliced turkey at my grocery deli runs about $4.50 to $7.00 a pound, depending on brand, and I didn’t pay more than 10 dollars for a whole bird.

Thanksgiving is coming up. If you are feeding four or less, this could be just the idea you have been looking for.

Gobble gobble!