Most yams that you find in the supermarket are actually sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have an orange flesh, while yams typically have a white interior like a regular potato. Regardless of whether the vegetable you purchased is a true yam or a sweet potato, you can use them interchangeably in any recipe. Traditionally, sweet potatoes are baked or used in sweet potato casseroles. These versatile vegetables, however, make wonderful additions to slow-cooker meals.
Make a hearty slow-cooker beef stew by substituting sweet potatoes for regular white potatoes. Use stew beef or a similar cut of meat, and tomato paste, beef broth, onion and sweet potatoes. Add in an assortment of other vegetables, such as turnips, carrots, mushrooms, peas and green beans. Place all of the ingredients into the slow-cooker in the morning. To save time, clean and cut the sweet potatoes the night before, and use frozen vegetables. Add freshness to the meal with a green salad and light ranch dressing.
The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes makes them ideal for tzimmes, a traditional Jewish dish. Tzimmes combines some sort of meat with a variety of sweet vegetables and fruits. For the meat, use either beef brisket, chicken breasts or lamb breasts in the slow-cooker. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, beef or chicken broth, prunes and apples. Flavor the meat, vegetables and fruits with honey, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.
Chicken works very well with sweet potatoes. To make an easy slow-cooker chicken curry, use chicken legs or breasts, chicken broth, onion, garlic and sweet potatoes. For the seasoning, use a mixture of ginger and curry powder. If your kids aren't fond of curry, omit the spices. Serve the chicken and sweet potatoes over rice. Cook the rice in the slow-cooker along with the chicken and sweet potatoes, just be sure to add extra liquid for the rice to absorb. Approximately 10 minutes before serving the dish, add a can of coconut milk.
For a vegan slow-cooker meal, substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes to make a hearty chili. Use a combination of canned black beans and kidney beans. Add vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Season with chili powder and a bit of salt, or include a bit of orange juice to give the chili a mild, citrus flavor.