When my husband and I met in graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we ultimately managed to create a more perfect union; but we came at it from entirely different points of view. He came from Florida, and announced to all of his friends and family that he was going “up north” for a Ph.D. I was born and raised in the Northeast and a little hesitant about going “down south” for graduate school.
I distinctly remember hanging out in the graduate student lounge one afternoon, musing aloud about the sticky, humid nights that never cooled off properly, the ominous kudzu twining around trees, and the strange ritual of undergraduates dressing up for football games (who wears a tie to a football game?), when a native North Carolinian and fellow student cut me off with an abrupt, “Well, then, go home, Yankee.” Yikes.
I’ve since settled in Chapel Hill, and over the years I’ve grown rather fond of the temperate year-round climate (as long as I can spend the summer in Maine…), the relaxed pace, and, of course, southern food.
This recipe for sweet potato biscuits reflects two southern staples rolled into one. It gave me a chance to use some local sweet potatoes, which are plentiful at my local farmer’s market, and the low-protein flour so widely available in the south. And I had biscuits! Hot from the oven, this is one of my favorite southern treats: cream biscuits with homemade jam; herb biscuits with bacon, egg, and cheese; buttermilk biscuits slathered with butter.
Dorie suggested that we use canned sweet potatoes in syrup, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. So I baked the sweet potatoes and mashed them with a fork. They gave the biscuits a pretty orange hue without making them heavy.
These are soft, with a light and tender crumb, and they’re a nice combination of savory and sweet. My husband and I had ours with cheddar corn chowder and that was great, but really, who needs to pair biscuits with anything at all. Just eat them straight from the oven with some good butter. Come to think of it, these would be great for a fall football tailgating party. Just remember to wear your high heels….