As a vegetarian, I’m perfectly content with the wealth and variety of side dishes at the Thanksgiving table. No need to experiment with silly fake-meat. Last Thanksgiving I tried this seasonal dish from the LA Times. It was so compelling and satisfying that it was easily the first dish to make it onto this year’s menu. Even the non-vegetarians admitted that it surpassed the turkey hands-down.
The baked sweet potatoes are smashed with walnuts and mace to form the patties. A cinch to assemble. The mushroom sauce comes together in just a few minutes on the stove. Sage in the sauce makes it a perfect fit for Thanksgiving, but I plan on continuing to make this all winter, using different herbs I happen to have on hand. I also won’t use chanterelles all season, but will probably whip up a weeknight version of the sauce with white buttons and cremini.
FOR THE CAKES:
2 pounds sweet potatoes, pricked all over with a fork
1 1/3 Cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 Cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon mace or nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 Cup flour
FOR THE SAUCE:
3 tablespoons butter
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (I used half chanterelle and half cremini)
2 tablespoons chopped sage, divided
3/4 Cup heavy cream or half-and-half
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Bake sweet potatoes in a 425F oven until soft, about 45 minutes. You can toast the walnuts simultaneously while the oven is hot.
When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins. Roughly mash in a large bowl until chunky. Stir in bread crumbs, walnuts, brown sugar, mace, egg, salt and pepper.
Place the flour in a wide, shallow dish. Form the mixture into patties. You can decide on the size. Coat each in flour, and set on a baking sheet. Heat oil in a skillet over medium hear. Fry in batches on both sides until golden.
Mince the shallots. Chop the sage. Slice or quarter the mushrooms.
Melt butter in a skillet over med-high heat. Add the shallots with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir often until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of the sage. Saute 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the cream and simmer until just thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the sauce over the croquettes. Garnish with the remaining sage.