I have a complicated relationship with sweet potatoes. I think they’re one of these wonder vegetables — impossible to mess up cooking, pretty consistently delicious whether you buy them freshly-dug from the farmers market or from a grocery chain, aglow with vitamins A and C and chock full of fiber. [Which I mostly think about because I’m the mother of a sweet potato junkie.] I like them in cake, sweet biscuits and pie. I like them with goat cheese and a light vinaigrette, gratin-ed with a tangle of chard, with a strange-but-addictive mix of spices and roasted in wedges, and one-bowl-meal-ed with roasted broccoli, black rice and miso sauce. But I also have all sorts of quibbles with them. They’re never crispy enough. They’re rarely savory enough — basically, if you get within 10 feet of my savory sweet potato dish with cinnamon, I go into hiding. For me, the louder the contrast between their sweet, soft nature, the happier I am eating them.
Which means that it was only a matter of time before I took this pretty-pretty crispy potato roast from the archives and tried to put a Thanksgiving spin on it. The ta-da factor is strong here and the workload manageable. You thinly slice a whole lot of sweet potatoes and arrange them in a butter and olive oil-brushed dish, and brush them with even more. You can slide slivers of shallots between the sweet potato pages. You’ll want to shower the whole thing with salt and black pepper or red pepper flakes. You bake it with foil on long enough that the insides get tender and without foil long enough to get the tops brown and crispy. This is not your standard holiday sweet potato mash.
I went a step further with something of a Thanksgiving salsa verde, or perhaps a Simon and Garfunkel salsa verde? I’d intended to just make it with parsley, but once I realized that the only herbs that survived early November in my short-lived herb garden were the sage, rosemary and thyme, well, you know, I just had to. It’s minced up with garlic, capers, lemon zest and olive oil, salt and pepper flakes. We liked it with the potatoes, but it may not be for everyone. I don’t think these would be unwelcome with any contrasting sauce you might prefer — perhaps this chile-lime vinaigrette or even a lemon-sumac dressing. You can go more classic, with some crème fraîche, thinned until drizzle-able with milk and scattered with chives and parsley. But if you do that, you have to promise to invite me too.
Thanksgiving is on Pinterest this year: The Smitten Kitchen Pinterest page is all decked out for November and December. Need more Pumpkin ideas? Savory or Sweet Thanksgiving ideas? Homemade Food Gifts? Or maybe just All The Cookies? So do we, and we’ve got you covered.
One year ago: Cauliflower with Brown Butter Crumbs
Two years ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits
Four years ago: Sweet Corn Spoonbread
Five years ago: Creamed Spinach
Six years ago: The Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell, Cranberry Pecan Frangipane Tart and Mustard Roasted Potatoes
Seven years ago: Moules Frites
Eight years ago: Orangettes, Honey Hoisin Pork Riblets and Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Soft Pretzels Buns and Knots
1.5 Years Ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano
2.5 Years Ago: Tzatziki Potato Salad
3.5 Years Ago: Strawberry Summer Cake (Oh, I am so envious of anyone who gets to eat this now.)
Crispy Sweet Potato Roast
Inspired by this one
The only thing that you might find exasperating about this recipe is how hard it is to get the measurements just right. I used a 2-quart oval baking dish and needed 5 pounds of smallish sweet potatoes to fill it. If yours are smaller or thinner, you might need fewer pounds. If yours are thicker, you might want to safely buy 6 pounds. It seems safest to buy a little extra, just in case. Mine baked in an hour, but thicker-sliced potatoes could take up to 15 minutes longer. You can absolutely make this ahead of time. It will warm well wherever you go. It can be made up to two days in advance, and still taste as good as day one.
3 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat butter and oil together until butter has melted. Pour 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish. (Mine is 9.5-by-12-inches, if that helps.) Sprinkle butter/oil puddle with some salt and pepper. Arrange your potato slices vertically in the dish. Add a sliver of shallot between every few slices of potato, if desired. Brush tops of potatoes with remaining butter/oil and season generously with more salt and pepper. Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until potatoes are tender and almost fully cooked. Increase oven heat to 450æF (230°C), remove foil and let roast another 10 to 20 minutes, until tops of potatoes are nicely browned.
If you’d like to finish this with the Thanksgiving Salsa Verde I show here, or at least serve it on the side, place 1 scant cup of parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, 1 generous teaspoon of fresh thyme and sage leaves, 1 small garlic clove, the zest of 1/2 a lemon and 2 teaspoons capers (rinsed and drained if salted) in a food processor or blender and blend until finely chopped. Drizzle in 7 tablespoons olive oil with the machine running, or enough the mixture is loose and somewhat pourable. Season well with salt and pepper flakes.
[For more finishing suggestions, see last paragraph of post above.]