Restaurant centers on sweet potatoes

June 17, 2009 12:58:58 PM PDT
Sweet potatoes are more versatile than you might think.There's a cafe in Beverly where the humble tuber is being used in everything from pies to stew. it's a single-minded store where they're peeling potatoes pretty much non-stop.

In Chicago at least, the familiar, oblong, orange vegetable is most often associated with fries or pie. But at Jimmy Jamm's on 95th Street, they have expanded the sweet and savory options exponentially, offering more than a dozen different treats, all with sweet potatoes as the star.

In the Midwest, the humble sweet potato is most often associated with pie. And at Jimmy Jamm's Sweet Potato Pies in Beverly, it most certainly plays a starring role. But the variation of pie toppings gives you some indication that this is no ordinary pie shop.

"Marshmallow toppings, merengue toppings, honey cream cheese toppings, banana rum topping," said Jimmy Ferguson, owner of Jimmy Jamm's Sweet Potato Pie.

And the creativity doesn't stop there. Turnovers, cobbler, even bread pudding and donuts all have sweet potatoes in them. The result of a long process of first peeling by hand, then boiling them and using an industrial-sized immersion blender to get rid of the stringy fibers that so often mar other sweet potato dishes. After some intense blending, a silky smooth puree is the tasty result. Pie fillings are obvious, but bundt cake, ice cream and cupcakes offer some more creative options.

"We're gonna start doing breakfast, with sweet potato waffles, sweet potato pancakes, sweet potato hashbrowns," said Ferguson.

And they've already started shifting into that savory zone. The bread they use for deli sandwiches is made from sweet potatoes, the fries on the side - no brainer - and their "loaded" yam contains sauteed chicken or steak, plus peppers, onions and cheese, and could easily feed two. Jimmy says once they started veering off of the typical uses, their creative options really opened up.

"Sweet potato is healthy and just versatile," Ferguson said.

Sweet potatoes are also good sources of beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C. So they not only taste good, but can be good for you as well.

Jimmy Jamm's Sweet Potato Pies
1844 W 95th St.
773-779-9105


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