I romanticize Thanksgiving.
In my mind Thanksgiving is a crisp fall day where family gathers around, happy to be with one another, and share in a glorious day of cooking and eating together. I feel like I had such Thanksgivings as a child but when I think back on it, I was probably too young to notice any tension between adults and only ate my favorite things, shunning the oyster stuffing and other offerings I thought looked or smelled weird.
In reality this day is usually not everything we hoped it would be; too much family, or not enough. Guest’s palates don’t reflect your own and favorite dishes are missed or worse than that, the meal is a flop and nothing is good at all. Or even worse than that, everything is completely perfect but you are too tired from refining every last detail that you could care less about the meal and would much rather drink a glass of bourbon…I mean wine and go to bed.
Jenny Rosenstrach writes about it beautifully in her newest book How to Celebrate Everything. She gives it a name in fact: Empty Celebration Syndrome, which perfectly describes the feeling (especially at Thanksgiving) that something is, I don’t know…..missing.
This year, even though it will be just the four of us, I will try to make the dinner seem special and hopefully, unlike every other family dinner we have at 6pm on a Thursday night. I will make pumpkin pie even if Louisa and I are the only ones who will eat it. I think I will make little Cornish game hens instead of a big turkey, although it really doesn’t matter— Hiro devours the drumstick of any poultry—and I will make these spicy candied sweet potatoes for Armando (although maybe just half a recipe, these make a ton).
Tips for success
If you want to add this recipe to your Thanksgiving menu (which I highly encourage) here’s a few tips: The sweet potatoes can be slow roasted the day before and kept covered in the refrigerator. The lime syrup can also be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to eat, drizzle the syrup over the sweet potatoes and roast until caramelized and blistered in a few spots. Sprinkle with chives and salt and serve.
A candied sweet potato dish that defies all cliches; slow-roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with a spicy lime syrup and blistered in a hot oven until brown and caramelized. Dairy and gluten free!
The sweet potatoes can be roasted up to a day in advance and the lime syrup can be made the day before as well. Drizzle syrup over potatoes and roast just before serving.
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes
- 2 thinly sliced serrano chiles
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- sea salt flakes for sprinkling, optional
- Heat oven to 300°F. Scrub sweet potatoes and poke all over with a fork. Place in a roasting pan large enough to hold all the potatoes with a few inches in-between (I used a 12 x 16-inch roasting pan).
- Cover with foil and bake until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, but not mushy, about 60-70 minutes. Unwrap and let cool slightly. Raise oven temp to 450°F and arrange a rack to the top of the oven.
- Meanwhile, combine serranos, coconut oil, lime zest and juice, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the oil is melted and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Smash potatoes with the palm of your hand. Pour syrup over the top and roast in the top of the oven until blistered and browned, about 20-25 minutes. If you'd still like them a bit more brown you can stick them under the broiler for a few minutes more.
- Sprinkle with chives and sea salt and serve.