Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/Browned Butter and Fried Sage

As a child growing up in Texas, I was never really fond of my families version of sweet potatoes. Someone would open a can or two of  "yams" and mash them slightly, pile on the brown sugar and marshmallows and bake it until there was little life left.  Now, there really is nothing wrong with this version of a very popular southern side dish. In fact, one southern Food Network star showcases this dish every year and people rave about it. You either LOVE the dish or you don't. Personally, I will pick salty-savory over sweet-savory every time!
Last year, my pastry chef and I were cooking at a ranch in Wyoming and for Thanksgiving we created this dish ( I am sure it was more of Teresa's idea).  I say we created it, because I have looked for it on the Internet and so far, I have not seen this particular application.

Normally, we just arrange a pile of these beauties in a huge bowl and garnish, garnish, garnish. But for the sake of this post, I had to add a bit of color to make the photo visually stand out. Try to use several different shades of sweet potatoes, it is more interesting and your guests can choose their favorites.


This dish is really simple and it utilizes an ingredient many of you will see over and over again in my cooking; Browned Butter or Beurre noisette. When you are warming the butter and the milk solids drop and begin to brown, you will notice this warm, nutty butter smell slowly emerging from your pan. THAT little bit of toasty goodness is all you need to take an average dish over the top, to completely divine.  I use this trick in sauces, pound cakes, shortbread cookies, soups or over plain sweet potatoes, as we will be doing today.  This is what you are looking for:


Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/Browned Butter and Fried Sage Leaves

4-5 lbs. Sweet Potatoes/Yams
1/2-3/4 cup unsalted butter
15-20 sage leaves
Sea or Kosher salt
Fresh Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Scrub sweet potatoes and pierce each twice (2 x) on the TOP (if you have holes facing down the sugar will seep out onto your oven floor).  Place each potato directly onto your oven racks and keep them at least an inch apart. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a sharp knife inserts easily. Some of your potatoes will cook more quickly then others, so check the smaller ones first and remove them when they are done.

While the potatoes are in the oven, heat a small saucepan on medium low heat and add butter. Butter will melt, the milk solids will rise to the top, and when they begin to drop back down, there will be some splattering, so be careful.  After 5 minutes or so you will notice the milk solids will begin to brown.  At this time, toss in your sage leaves and "fry" for 1-2 minutes. Remove sage leaves from butter and drain on paper towels.  Reserve for garnish.

Keep on eye on your butter, as it browns it should have a "nutty" smell. Once it begins to darken, carefully transfer the butter to another heat resistant dish. This stops the cooking process and keeps the butter from burning.  You are more then welcome to strain the butter to remove the dark bits, but why make more work for yourself.  You can either skim the clear brown liquid from the top or you can just include those little tasty bits in your dish.  

To Serve: Carefully cut roasted potatoes into quarters, arrange on your serving dish and spoon browned butter over all the pieces, liberally salt and pepper, then scatter whole or crushed sage leaves on top.

**Note: dried sage will not work in this dish, nor will thyme leaves.  I find rosemary is a bit too overpowering as well.  Try to use fresh Sage leaves, you will find it in abundance this time of year and it really makes this dish perfect. Once the sage is fried the flavor becomes really delicate, and nice. 


Chef Deb

P.S.  Thank you Aunt Judy , for reminding me of this dish.  I'd like to know which recipe was more popular in Virginia, this one or the Sweet Potato Apple....


Judy said...

Deb, Thanks for the pictures. They help so much. Will let you know what the Thanksgiving crowd thinks. Judy

Chef Deb T said...

Hi Aunt Judy,

I will post the recipe and photo for the Apple Sweet Potato Dish this evening...BTW, the Apple S. Pot dish was mom's absolute favorite, and she and dad used to make it for grandma I. too! It's about time I share this one as well.

I miss you!
Chef Deb
(Debbie to you)