If you cook regularly for your family, you’re probably well aware that the amount of time you spend making a dish is inversely proportional to the amount of time your loved ones spend eating it. Chicken and dumplings takes three hours of labor, for example, but it’s gone in six minutes of concentrated gobbling. This law of kitchen physics can be both gratifying and frustrating. But it’s nothing compared to the child-specific corollary that’s anything but gratifying and more than frustrating: “The harder you work to cook something your kids will like, the faster they’ll turn up their snotty little noses at it.”
Never is this culinary formula more fully in force than at Thanksgiving, no matter how simple or complicated your family’s meal. All you need to put a damper on your drumsticks is one child whining, “I don’t like turkey. Can I have peanut butter toast instead?” Worse yet, other children within earshot invariably follow suit, just as a wailing infant can instantly make another start to cry. Before you know it, you have a dinner-table mutiny on your hands.
This year, I have resolved to head off all picky children at the pass. I can see them now, happily forking up my green bean casserole and heaps of buttermilk smashed potatoes without a care, so long as one magical item is on their plates: the fried sweet potato ball. It’s “da bomb”—a baseball-sized confection of mashed sweet potatoes molded around a large marshmallow, rolled in cornflakes and fried for good measure. If you’ve ever dug into a sweet potato casserole crusted with a sugary topping and said, “Shouldn’t this be dessert?” then here’s your answer. Certainly, sweet potato balls make no pretense of being a side dish. Kids will drool over them, and grown adults will shove others out of the way to get at them while the turkey languishes and the gravy stiffens.
If I had my druthers, I’d mix coconut and crushed pineapple into the sweet potatoes and add a handful of chopped pecans to the cornflake coating. But children tend to be purists. And after all, I’m not trying to please myself. I’m just thankful when everyone is happy eating dinner.
Get the recipe for Fried Sweet Potato Balls
Do your kids like sweet potatoes? Chime in below!