Because I regularly volunteer for sweet potato duty, that traditional dish has evolved to be the revolving the door at Thanksgiving every year. My mom always makes a small dish of Candied Sweet Potatoes – you know the kind, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, a stick of butter, all buried under a bag of jumbo marshmallows.
And then I make something else for the marshmallow haters.
Maybe it’s twice-baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with a cinnamon-brown sugar streusel, or mashed sweet potatoes served alongside cinnamon honey butter, or the recipe that still remains my family’s favorite to this day – sweet potato wedges with bacon vinaigrette.
This year, I took the flavors (maple syrup, butter, bacon) from that family favorite and worked them into a lower maintenance recipe. Because the last thing I want to do on a busy holiday is fuss with flipping two baking sheets-worth of sweet potato wedges. And standing over a sizzling pan hanging out of a hot oven is the last thing I should be doing on a day when the first bottle of wine is opened before 11am.
We started with a plain Hasselback Sweet Potato, the prettiest way to serve a sweet potato by the way, and slathered it with a simple maple-cinnamon butter and then crumbled crispy bacon over top. The preparation is simple (recruit an inlaw to help with hasselbacking duty), the butter can be made days ahead of time, and… there’s bacon!
Some tips for hasselback-ing your potatoes:
- Look for potatoes that are similar in size and shape to ensure even cooking.
- Find each potato’s “flat side” and use that as the bottom – nothing will roll around on the baking sheet while you’re cutting or transferring to/from the oven.
- Use a sharp knife.
- Be prepared to need a couple of potatoes to hit that hasselback-ing groove.
- Don’t panic if you cut too far, a toothpick can easily rejoin an accidentally unjoined hasselback potato.
And just a note: the green garnish (a random green leaf from a bag of lettuce) in the photo was simply added to help my camera out and I pulled them off later My camera is remarkably unkind to photos of orange food with brown skin, topped with brownish-orange food and yellowish-orange butter. If I had had any green onions, I would have used those – and them left them there.
Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Cinnamon Butter
Hasselback sweet potatoes served with a sweetened maple-cinnamon butter and crispy bacon are an impressive twist to traditional holiday sweet potato dishes,
- For the maple-cinnamon butter:
- 1 stick butter, very soft
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon (more to taste)
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- For the potatoes:
- 8 medium sweet potatoes
- Olive oil
- 4 slices of bacon, cooked to a crisp.
- To make the maple cinnamon butter, mash together very soft butter, cinnamon, maple syrup and a pinch of salt until uniform.
- Taste for cinnamonness and sweetness and add more to taste if desired.
- Lay a ~12-inch piece of plastic wrap on your work surface.
- Spoon the butter into a line about the length of a stick of butter, and wrap into cylinder.
- Pick up the butter and twist to seal the butter in the plastic wrap.
- Chill until firm (this can be done several days ahead).
- Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch slits about 2/3 of the way through the potato.
- Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bake for ~45 minutes, until tender all the way through (stick a fork near the bottom side, where there are no cuts to check for doneness).
- Serve warm, with slices of maple-cinnamon butter, and topped with crumbled bacon. Because there's so much food at the holidays, cutting them in half will probably still be a plenty big enough serving.
Yields: 8-16 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour