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White Yam and Cheese Casserole

Yellow yam has been Jamaica’s favorite yam for many years. Everyone knows when you say the word yam; you’re talking about yellow yam. If anyone mentions any other yam, they would say exactly what kind of yam they were talking about such as Renta, Negro, Silvensen (St. Vincent), Haffu, White and so on.

That being the case, the ‘yellow’ was always the choice for soups, roasted with saltfish, and generally used when we cook up anything during the week. It was a given, that all other yams were merely accompaniments in the food ensemble.

Even though white yam was a little bit sweeter and softer than yellow, the praises for white yam were minimal, if ever noted. Consequently, this smooth light tuber was left to linger in the pot water as another provision of choice.

White yam’s status cannot even get close to say a potato of any kind, if we measure its importance on the Jamaican food scale, if you will. However, I love white yam more than yellow yam in certain circumstances. For example, white yam tastes much better than yellow when crushed with butter, or coconut oil. Moreover, it is much easier to cook, too.

Yet the main choice for second choice yams, as white yam, seems to be often times as cook it in water and let it be as that…a cook up starch food. Whereas other foods have their companion complement such as breadfruit with ackee, mackerel and banana, dumpling and saltfish, bully beef and rice, bulla and pear, and I can go on like this for days, no one has ever popularized white yam with any ‘salting’ or even animal fat.

If you go to a Jamaican restaurant, you may never find white yam on the menu or mentioned as a side order. One of the reasons, which I can understand, is that white yam cannot sit in boiled water for too long. So, there goes white yam’s chances for any kind of popularity, too. Yah Mon!... it’s too soft.

Well a couple of weeks ago I took it upon myself to ‘try-a ting’ with white yam, you know. I decided to take ‘the white’ to another level and prove that there will not be another day of discrimination against one of my favorites anymore. The too soft argument about ‘the white’ and other second choice yams is over.

In addition, you will have to help me spread the word when you pass on this recipe to your friends, and foes, as well, to make it clear that the time has come for a changing of the guard. The yellow will have to respect the white after this recipe…YAH MON!!!

Well the “changing of the guard” statement may be a little bit too bold but something will change, somehow.

Ok, here goes.

1 ½ lb. White Yam

1 pint. Thick Cream

1 tbsp. Black Pepper

1 ½ Large Onions

1 tsp. Salt

½ lb. Swiss Cheese

Method:

Peel the white yam and then wash it to remove any residual dirt. Allow water to boil in a pot then add the vegetable with salt to the pot. (You can slice the yam into small pieces if you like before you boil it. Since you are going to crush then yam later, it really doesn’t matter.)

In the meantime, shred the onions using a grater. I use the four-sided grater that has four different functions. You can use an electric blender to shred the onions but I am not sure that you will get the same result, because you need the onions to be a little bit chunky with its juices.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Now turn up the fire on high, put on a saucepan and pour the heavy cream into it. Let the cream boil for ten minutes. Add the black pepper and onions to the cream and let them boil for another ten minutes or until slightly thick.

While that’s going on your yams should be cooked by now. Drain the water and crush the yam. Put the crushed yam in a Pyrex baking dish. Turn off the fire under the saucepan and then pour the ingredients onto the crushed yam. Fold the cream and onion into the yam. Be patient with this procedure.

Level off the top of the mixture when you are finished.

Now grate the Swiss cheese and spread it on top of the mixture in the Pyrex dish. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes or until the cheese turns slightly brown.

Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool. You can slice the yam and cheese casserole any way you like and serve it as a side dish.

Here is what happened at my house:

I put the casserole in the refrigerator and eat a slice each day; it tastes better the longer it sat in the fridge. My wife and son both made double servings each time they had some. It was gone in four days.

I also used Austrian Swiss for this recipe but you can try any cheeses with this one; please experiment and let me know what happened.

Irie!!

Yah Mon!!

Happy Cooking,

Uncle Zack




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