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Baked Sweet Potatoes with Orange Glaze

Instead of just sweetness, there's a touch of spice in this dish that makes it especially delicious.

Make-ahead tips: The day before, dish may be completely assembled and refrigerated, up to the baking step. Bake as directed before serving.

Transportation tip: Sweet potatoes will stay hot in insulated case at least 1 hour; wrapped in towels, about 30 minutes.

6 to 6 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, rinsed
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Put sweet potatoes in one or two large pots and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook 25 to 40 minutes, depending on size, until fork-tender but not mushy. With tongs, lift each sweet potato from pot to a colander. Cool briefly under cold running water. Let stand until cool enough to handle.

While potatoes cool, make syrup: In heavy medium nonaluminum saucepan, put brown sugar, orange peel and juice, butter, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to dissolve sugar and melt butter. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Generously butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange in overlapping layers in prepared pan. Spoon syrup over. Cover pan with foil.

If serving soon: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Otherwise, refrigerate.

To serve: Bake 30 minutes (40 minutes if refrigerated). Uncover; using bulb baster, squirt pan juices over potatoes. Bake 20 minutes longer, basting 3 times more, until sweet potatoes are tender and glazed. Makes 12 generous servings

Miriam Rubin

Monday, November 20, 2000

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