Melting Sweet Potatoes
It’s definitely time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. I saw this recipe on a recent episode of The Kitchen and was so excited I could hardly wait to try it. Sweet potatoes roasted simply on a sheet pan – easy and quick. But the end result? Chic and understated. This is a dish that dazzles. Lighter than the traditional sweet potato casserole, it still has all the familiar sweet, buttery, cinnamon-spiced flavor, and it plates beautifully. Topped with fresh pecans for contrast and crunch with a pop of green from the chives, you’ve got yourself an easy side dish that looks as good as it tastes.
It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my grandma’s sweet potatoes. Every year she’d arrive, often making her way through the snow, both hands full, carrying a big casserole dish of the expertly baked sweet potato casserole that was hers and hers alone. Thick and bubbly, spiced and sweet, it was buttery and delicious and topped with heavenly pillows of marshmallows. As she got older, cooking became harder and so I was tasked one year with going to help her. She gave me directions from a chair in the kitchen. There were canned (I never guessed this) sweet potatoes, the usual spices you’d expect, more than a little butter and quite literally everything you could imagine from the refrigerator. Maple syrup, half a jar of jelly, some apple cider… I honestly can’t remember it all. She used what she had, and her sweet potatoes were simply the best. I can’t recreate them, and I won’t even try, but they’re one of the dishes from Thanksgiving past that I keep in my heart, right along with my memories of her.
The recipe below makes 4 servings, so plan to double or triple it depending on the size of your gathering. I made this several times and am pleased to report that yes, you can make this ahead and freeze it, just be careful not to overcook. Let your potatoes cool completely on your sheet pan, then cover the pan and transfer to your freezer. You can gently rewarm them in your oven shortly before serving time, then quickly plate and top with the pecans and chives. Or, you could prep on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving. Toss your potatoes in the butter, cinnamon and salt, then arrange on your parchment lined baking sheet and cover. Tuck in the fridge so they’re ready to roast, which you can do close to serving time. Put anyone who offers to help in charge of this job. They can keep an eye on the oven, turn the potatoes halfway and glaze them. Depending on the helper, maybe even plate them for you.
Put your maple syrup in a squeeze bottle before you drizzle it over your potatoes. This lets you control the amount you use and helps you get it right on the potatoes and not all over the sheet pan, which also cuts down on waste. You may not need all of the 1/2 cup called for in the recipe and you can keep any that you don’t use in that same squeeze bottle in your fridge until you use the rest.
Could you make this now and start enjoying it before Thanksgiving? You bet. Tucked into your oven, roasting away, they’re a sneak peek at Thanksgiving and they smell divine. Add this to a weeknight dinner and give it a practice run before the big day.
Melting Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
Preheat oven to 425º F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Add butter, cinnamon and salt to a medium bowl and stir until combined, then add potatoes and toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn potatoes over, then drizzle with maple syrup. Continue to bake until potatoes are golden brown, crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, about 15 minutes more. Arrange on platter and sprinkle with pecans and chives.
– recipe by Jeff Mauro, The Kitchen