Chances are, you haven’t actually seen a real yam before.
The real deal is a giant, coarse-skinned tuber with white flesh, while what we know as “yams” are just a more orange version of the smaller, smoother sweet potato. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, while sweet potatoes come from the Americas. Most supermarkets label orange sweet potatoes as yams, and for the purposes of this recipe, I will refer to the impersonating offenders as such. Their sweet insides and consistent texture provide the perfect canvas to fill with wintry comfort foods like hearty ground beef, kale and festive tarragon.

This season, you can find the perfect sweet potato specimens and some fresh tarragon at one of Albuquerque’s winter markets, like the late fall Downtown Growers’ Market on December 17, the Los Ranchos Growers’ winter market on January 14. Or, check out the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market any Saturday. For humanely raised local beef, check out Keller’s Farm Store, where meat is processed and cured entirely in-house, and a smokehouse runs 24 hours a day during the holiday season.

Stuffed Jeweled Yams with Tarragon
Serves: 4
Prep time: 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes
• 2 “jewel yams” cut in half lengthwise
• olive oil
• 1/2 small onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 cup cooked and drained lean ground beef
• 2/3 cups cooked red quinoa
• 1 cup tomato sauce or diced tomato
• 2 cups finely chopped curly-leaf kale
• 2 tablespoons dried or fresh tarragon
• 1/2 cup shredded melting cheese, like cheddar or mozzarella
• Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375º F.
Lightly coat yam halves with olive oil and bake, facedown in a baking pan, for 45 minutes to an hour.
While yams are baking, prepare the filling. Saute onions on medium heat in a skillet with a little bit of oil. When onions are translucent and golden brown, add garlic and tarragon. Continue sautéing for roughly 5 minutes, then add chopped kale with a cup of hot water, covering the mixture to cook the kale through. Uncover and stir mixture occasionally for 5-10 minutes.
When kale is completely wilted and cooked through, add cooked ground beef, quinoa and tomato sauce, stir to combine and heat the mixture, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. When yams are completely cooked through and soft, remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Using a spoon, scoop out about three spoonfuls of their centers, creating an indented bowl shape without removing most of the flesh. Fill these “bowls” with a generous scoop of filling and top with some shredded cheese.
Return yams to oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese becomes golden brown and filling is bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
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