My stars kids, I think it’s about wintertime. We have been having heavy frosts every night this week and we have reached the time of year where I scheme to make something in the oven every night to warm the kitchen up. Frequent go-to for this purpose: sweet potatoes. Holy shit, we love us some sweet potatoes at our house. These were a relatively late discovery for me, as I don’t really remember eating these as a child (save for the practically universal disappointment of marshmallow laden sweet potato pie, I mean, gak). But man, do I eat them now. I think they are kind of a magic food, like miso and fresh figs, where you just can’t believe that something that tastes this good can also be so good for you. A lot of time I just chop a few up and throw them in the oven with a chicken. Wa-la. But it is true that they don’t always cook perfectly, sometimes there will be a kind of woody, starchy chunks here and there.
Well, leave it to Cook’s Illustrated** to get to the bottom of such a thing. Turns out that above 175 degrees the starch in a sweet potato will cease converting to sugar. Well who knew? So here is how they roast sweet potatoes to get around this, and let me tell you: you will end up with perfectly roasted super sweet little chunks of goodness. When we bake these, you would swear there were cookies in the oven, and on a cold winter’s night, I’d take these over cookies any day.
** The magazine I used to think was the dorkiest thing in the entire would – I could not believe my mother gave me a subscription – and now six years later I adore, if in a slightly patronizing Oh those Cook’s Illustrated people are so crazy kind of way. What this change of heart signifies I cannot tell you.
Perfectly Roasted Sweet Potatoes
From Cook’s Illustrated
Sweet potatoes, scrubbed (do not peel these guys, the skin is so tasty!)
Note: do NOT preheat oven.
Cut sweet potatoes into 3/4 inch thick rounds. Toss in oil until lightly coated, season with salt and pepper (sometimes we throw on red chili flakes or thyme or anything else that might sound good). Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet (note: CI has you put them on a baking sheet covered in foil sprayed with cooking spray but sheesh already), and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in oven on middle rack and adjust temperature to 425 degrees. Cook for 30 minutes.
Remove foil, and cook until bottom edges brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Take sheet out of oven, flip potatoes, and continue to roast until other side is brown or golden, another 18 to 22 minutes.
I know this seems like a long time, but it’s totally worth it to have the creamy sweetness contrasted with the slightly crisp, browned edges. Plus, the longer the oven is on the warmer it is in our kitchen. Eat ‘em up!