Christmas has come and gone. There may be a handful of sweet potatoes staring up at you from the counter.
Maybe you’ve resigned yourself to making the same casserole of mashed sweet potatoes, canned pineapple rings, and marshmallows you make every year. Maybe you really like it. Maybe you’re secretly dreading it. Maybe you were planning to just stick those suckers in the oven and hope for the best. Maybe you bought them without any particular plan, because they looked so pretty in the store, like they belonged in some classic holiday cornucopia.
Here’s what you do with them. Make sweet potato pommes Anna. And, once you’ve made it, just see if this isn’t what you make every time you find sweet potatoes in your shopping cart, farmers market bag, or CSA share.
Pommes Anna is a dish of layered potatoes, baked in a hot skillet so they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, rich with butter and herbs. It manages to be both dead simple and a little show-offy — a matter of controlling thickness and heat more than anything. The dish is traditionally made with white potatoes, which are starchier and bind together almost solidly in the oven. Sweet potatoes won’t cook into a solid mass in your pommes Anna, but they will still look beautiful on the plate. (Generally speaking, the lighter the color, the starchier the sweet potato. The darker, more orangey it is, the sweeter it will be. For this dish, you can look for the lightest sweet potatoes in the market, but, honestly, I’ve made it with all shades of spuds.)
Whatever you do with those sweet potatoes this season, just don’t call them yams.
Sweet Potato Pommes Anna
1–2 large sweet potatoes
¼ c butter, melted
1 tbsp mixed dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, whatever you like)
½ tsp salt
Heat oven to 400˚F. Place a 9-inch cast iron frying pan in the oven to heat up.
Peel and slice sweet potatoes as thinly as possible. A mandoline is the best tool for this, but if you’re working for a knife, aim for 1/16- to 1/8-inch thick. Stir together butter and herbs and toss with sweet potato, being careful to coat every slice.
Remove hot frying pan and carefully layer sweet potatoes in overlapping circles, covering the bottom and sides of the pan and then working your way up.
Bake about 30 minutes until a gently inserted knife meets low resistance and, when you lift the sides of the potato — again, gently — you can see a little browning.
Let rest about 10 minutes and then invert onto a serving plate.
This recipe is from Tricia Cornell’s upcoming book, The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook: A Guide to Selecting and Preparing the Best Local Produce with Seasonal Recipes from Local Chefs and Farmers (Voyageur Press, March 15, 2014).