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Welcome to The Bread Stone Ovens Company's Thanksgiving recipe series. Over the next three weeks, we will share our favorite wood-fired recipes to get you in the mood to give thanks (and devour lots of once-a-year yummies).
The series begins with sweet potatoes. Once relegated to swimming in canned syrup, the sweet potato has begun to be appreciated for it's Vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. Sweet potatoes have found their way into lots of healthy, low calorie recipes in recent years.
This is not one of those recipes.
My family Thanksgiving table wouldn't be complete without sweet potatoes, sometimes in multiple preparations. Why would anyone need more than one dish of sweet potatoes? Pecans vs. Marshmallows: bitter rivals in the quest to achieve Thanksgiving supremacy. The two have battled it out, year after year, but isn't it time we found a way for everyone to get what they want without having to eat the leftovers for a month? Enter the compromise...
3 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Juice and zest of 4 large, ripe oranges
Dash of salt (or more--season to taste)
Dash of cinnamon (or more--season to taste)
Optional: Dash of cayenne pepper (or more--season to taste)
1 cup dark brown sugar
8 oz chopped pecans
Fire your oven to 350-400 degrees Farehnheit. Spread the embers evenly over the floor and rest 15-30 minutes. Bank the embers to one side.
1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into pieces no larger than 1 inch cubes. Set aside.
2. Zest and juice your oranges into a large bowl, then add the brown sugar, melted butter, salt, cinnamon and cayenne (if using). Why cayenne? I love sweet and spicy together and it's a novel twist sure to surprise your guests. (That being said, make sure your guests would like to be surprised. We want to avoid children's table anarchy. They are small but fierce.) Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the sweet potatoes and toss until they are coated, then pour the contents into an un-oiled cast iron skillet.
This is a terrible way to juice oranges. Use a reamer or juicer for crying out loud.
3. Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake in the oven 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender, but not dissolving into mush. The liquid in the skillet acts as a sort of poaching liquid, so this should be a gentle cook.
4. Remove the skillet from the oven. start a new fire over your bed of embers. You want a large enough fire to produce a flame roll across the dome.
5. When you have achieved flame roll, position the skillet (foil removed) underneath the flame and cook until the liquid is reduced and syrupy. It only takes a few minutes; I suggest you stand by and watch it constantly, using your fire-proof gloves and a long handled wooden or metal spoon to occasionally stir the potatoes, making sure they don't burn to oblivion. BE CAREFUL. The liquid is essentially candy and candy will burn the flesh from your bones if you get it on you.
6. When you are happy with the consistency of your liquid, remove the skillet again. Add wood to the fire if needed. Gently smooth the top of the potatoes to get a relatively flat surface.
7. Top the skillet with the mixture of brown sugar and pecans. If you need more to cover the entire skillet, use more, keeping a similar ratio.
8. The skillet goes back into the oven, under the flame roll. Fairly quickly, your sugar will melt and the pecans will toast. Reposition the skillet as needed to ensure an even cook on the topping.
9. When the sugar is melted and the nuts are browned, remove the skillet and add a generous sprinkling of mini marshmallows. Return to the oven for a final "broil" and remove when the marshmallows reach your desired level of browness.
10. This dish can be made ahead and served at room temperature or gently heated in a sub-200 degree oven before serving.
Right now you are probably thinking "That is A LOT of sugar." Truly, the salt and fresh orange juice/zest do a good job of balancing the dish and keeping it from being one note. The cayenne, if you choose to add it, sends it over top.
Join us next week when we tackle Thanksgiving Turkey 3.0!