Serves 6; recipe by Courtney McDonald

-4 pounds sweet potatoes
-2 cups heavy cream or half and half
-1 stick unsalted butter
-zest of 4 meyer lemons
-2 vanilla beans
-salt and pepper, to taste

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut unto large chunks. Place in a pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Cook until potatoes just begin to fall apart and are very soft, about 15-20 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, heat the cream and butter in a small pot over low heat, just until butter is melted. Add the meyer lemon zest. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla pulp. Add the pulp to the cream and save the pods for another use. Set cream mixture aside until potatoes are cooked.

Drain the sweet potatoes and discard the cooking water. Return the cooked potatoes to the pot and heat over low flame for a minute to remove any excess moisture. Using a potato masher, mash in the cream-lemon-vanilla mixture. Add the liquid until sweet potatoes are at the consistency you prefer – less liquid for starchier potatoes and more for creamier. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately! This dish would pair well with a Placer County chardonnay or viognier wine.

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