This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Rediscovering America. The opinions and text are all mine.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to enjoy dinner at Cortez in Raleigh. Along with 8 other restaurants, Cortez is participating in a culinary program called Rediscovering America, featuring fresh, affordable, and locally grown produce from Walmart. Sure, life and school are pretty busy, but I couldn’t say no to a chance to support local NC agriculture and try a new-to-me restaurant! I invited a friend to go a spontaneous mini road trip and we drove to Raleigh after class that Friday (it’s a little under two hours from Winston-Salem). It was fun to show her around Raleigh before enjoying an incredible meal at Cortez on Saturday night!
My friend was up for sharing everything, so we ordered a bunch of small plates and a couple of entrees so we could try as many dishes as possible. My favorite lighter small plate was “Char the Market,” which included sweet potatoes, zucchini, and cucumber, all local to North Carolina and supplied by Walmart. The dish was a really interesting mix of charred zucchini, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, kale, chimichurri, scallions, cilantro, and Carolina Gold BBQ sauce, plus crispy sweet potato chips on top.
We also shared two fabulous entrees: a Korean BBQ chicken sandwich with cilantro, kimchi, and hand-cut fries, plus an amazing grilled sword fish that included fried rice, a fried egg, mushrooms, kimchi and bok choy.
Our night ended with Cortez’s goat cheese berry cheesecake to-go after crashing on the couch at home. It was a fun and delicious girls’ night out!
My challenge afterward? To create a recipe inspired by my visit to the Cortez using the local NC produce (sweet potatoes, zucchini, or cucumbers) available at Walmart in Raleigh! I decided to make NC sweet potatoes the star of the show, so these BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes happened. You can make the recipe too, and when you do, check out Walmart’s online grocery shopping so that you can save time and pick up your ingredients curbside.
Buns are great and all, but you know what I think is even better? SWEET POTATOES. On burger night, I usually go for a lettuce wrap, foregoing the bun in favor of an extra serving of roasted sweet potatoes. This recipe is a similar concept, and it’s a fun switch-up from regular grilled BBQ chicken breasts or a typical BBQ chicken sandwich on a bun. Bonus: BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free if that’s a concern for you!
My go-to method for cooking whole sweet potatoes is to wash, scrub them, and dry, poke a few holes with a fork to let steam escape, and then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. No aluminum foil or oil necessary! You’ll know they’re done when you start to see this syrupy glaze and you can easily the sweet potatoes with a fork.
At the store, I try to select sweet potatoes that are a similar size and shape so they’ll cook consistently. For stuffing purposes, wide and round sweet potatoes work better than long, thin ones.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, you can also cook the chicken. Or, you take the same shortcut I used this time and pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store to shred and mix with BBQ sauce. Let the sweet potatoes cool until they’re not too hot to handle, and then slice down about 3/4 the length of the sweet potato, being careful not to slice all of the way through. Fill each sweet potato with shredded BBQ chicken (and even top with cheese if you’d like!) and then return the sweet potatoes to the oven until the BBQ chicken mixture is heated through. Top with fresh red onion slices and cilantro, if desired, and enjoy!
A note about the sauce: store-bought BBQ sauces tend to be surprisingly high in sugar. A tiny serving (two tablespoons) of a typical sauce has around 12 grams of sugar, which means two servings of sauce has much sugar as an entire serving of premium ice cream. Since I try to eat added sugar in moderation and would rather save it for things like my after-dinner ice cream, I quickly check the labels to find one that’s low in added sugar. I’ve found a couple of brands with 4-5 grams of sugar per serving. If you have time, you can also always make your own sauce!
If you try these BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes, let me know in a comment (and leave a star rating!) or take a photo and tag me @livbane on Instagram! I’d love to see!
BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- 4 medium sweet potatoes (approx. 10 oz. each, approximately the same shape if possible. Wide/round are easiest to stuff)
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- 1/2 cup low-sugar BBQ sauce
- Toppings: optional shredded cheese (like Monterey Jack), fresh cilantro, sliced red onion, etc.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash, scrub clean, and dry sweet potatoes. Poke a few holes in each sweet potato with a fork. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the potatoes.
- Remove sweet potatoes from oven and turn oven temperature down to 400 degrees. Make a vertical slit 3/4 of the way down the length of each potato to create a "pocket," being careful not to fully cut in half. Set aside until cool enough to safely fill.
- While sweet potatoes are cooling slightly, mix shredded chicken with BBQ sauce. Spoon 1/4 of the chicken mixture into each potato. Top with shredded cheese, if desired, and return to oven for 10 minutes or until chicken is heated through. Enjoy with fresh cilantro and/or sliced red onion on top.
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