Perfect Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Hope everyone had a Thanksgiving filled with good food and good people. Now it’s full speed ahead to the holidays and the end of 2012. Thought I’d post a recipe today for the best sweet potato I’ve ever had, and one that wowed my family and friends for the second Thanksgiving in a row.

These slow-roasted sweet potatoes hail from a 2008 issue of Cooks Illustrated. They have all the best sweet potato features: delicately browned and caramel coated on the outside and perfectly soft, sweet on the inside. Not starchy, stringy, or mushy. No need to sweeten with any marshmallow funk or brown sugar either. I’ve met some nasty sweet potatoes in my day and these are definitely not nasty. The first time I made them, I roasted 6 pounds and the kitchen partner and I ate them all.

There’s only one downside. Have you ever discovered a fantastic recipe that was also completely unrealistic? One that makes you say “Sure I can make that…If I had 3 prep chefs, 2 ovens and a magic wand.” Thankfully the recipe itself is not hard. It just commands the oven for a good part of two hours and is completely impractical if you’re planning to bake anything else. In order to get the soft-inside-caramel-brown outside, the sweet potatoes must be put in a cold oven and brought to a high temperature. The inside cooks first, slowly at lower heat to avoid any starchy potato-ness. The outside browns in the last minutes of high heat but doesn’t burn or dry out. Perfect sweet potato.

Perfect except…Who has a cold oven at any point on Thanksgiving? Before breakfast or late in the day, when everyone’s in a tryptophan haze? What else can be in the oven at 200°, brought to 425° and still survive?

Despite being incredibly tasty and all-things spectacular, I can only recommend these for a Saturday afternoon when not much else is happening in the kitchen. You’ll have one of those between now and the end of the year, right? Perhaps with pan-fried fish or grilled chicken which wont harbor any a hard feelings about the crowded oven space.

You’ve been warned though. These sweet potatoes are so good, all the others will seem mediocre and incomplete. They’re perfect.

Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Magazine, Nov-Dec. 2008

3 pounds sweet potatoes*
1 1/2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
salt and pepper
1. Scrub sweet potatoes and slice into 3/4″ slices. You may peel them before slicing, but if scrubbed well it is not necessary. Place in a bowl, drizzle with sunflower oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes to evenly coat with the oil.

2. Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil. Coat with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Using a second sheet of foil, cover the potatoes and create a tightly sealed pocket. This will keep the moisture in for the first part of baking.

3. Place sweet potatoes in cold oven, and turn on to 425°F. Bake 30 minutes. Remove top layer of foil.

4. Return to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes more or until bottom of potatoes are golden brown when lifted with a spatula. Remove from oven and flip over each potato slice. Spread in an even layer and return to the oven, baking 12-15 minutes more until other side browns. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before placing in a serving dish (bottom potatoes will get soggy if stacked immediately).

*Note: It helps to buy sweet potatoes that are evenly sized. Smaller slices will roast faster than larger ones and may be overly browned by the end. Cooking times are for sweet potatoes 2-3″ in diameter.

One Comment

  • anita steiner, Israel

    Hi. Well most of us in Israel don’t celebrate the American Thanksgiving, nor the holidays at the end of December….. but I still found the recipe and article interesting.

    There is some dissonance in your article. For the potatoes, the slow cooking seems to be the secret, but then you say: “Now it’s full speed ahead to the holidays and the end of 2012.” Why not try, if possible, to recapture the slow cooking and the slower pace, while preparing for the end of the year holidays. Perhaps you will also be helping yourself to a calmer state of mind.

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