Do you love sweet potatoes or yams--I never know quite which is which? My family is addicted to them! And unlike our addiction to chocolate, sugar, bagels etc. this is one addiction I can get right behind, because sweet potatoes are really good for you and so versatile too. They're wonderful just simply baked or as sweet potato fries or as a marshmallow topped casserole for Thanksgiving or as this amazing side dish!!
One of the confirmed sweet potato addicts, (aka my kids) has been after me to make this for weeks since we saw it on someone else's blog around Thanksgiving time, but I've resisted since I thought it would take an annoying amount of time and turn out to not be worth the effort. Silly me!! For such a special looking dish, this was relatively easy and can definitely mostly be made ahead of time, with just the last bit of cooking finished up while you are getting the rest of the dinner ready.
Basically most of your time is spent slicing the sweet potatoes wafer thin. If you have a mandoline, this is the time to use it. Here's the one I have. It's by Borner and I would highly recommend it, even if you only use it a couple of times a year for projects like these--
You can totally slice the sweet potatoes by hand, but the mandoline makes it a snap to get even thin slices every time and really doesn't take long at all. It's also kind of fun to do. In fact the construction of this whole dish turned into a fun family project with the instigator of the dish doing the slicing, my daughter and my son's girlfriend doing the potato layering and me slicing the shallots and crying! And of course, bossing everyone around!!
First you just melt a little bit of butter and oil together and pour some in your baking dish, Then, after you've sliced the sweet potatoes and shallots, you layer them vertically in the dish, so that they are standing up on end, continuing to layer until the entire pan is filled with wafer thin slices of sweet potatoes and shallots!!
Right before you bake the casserole, you brush the slices with a little more of the butter/oil mixture and season with salt and pepper. It's really pretty simple but has that wow factor that side dishes do not usually elicit!
Because you finish the dish off by turning up the heat to 450ºF, the tops of the chips turn deliciously crisp and crunchy, (don't worry about the charred tops--they taste great!) while the interiors stay soft and tender. It's really interesting and delicious and though I haven't yet said I thing about New Year's resolutions (I will) I resolve to make this again and again and I know this is one resolution I will have no trouble keeping!!
Crispy Sweet Potato Chip Bake
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes; Bake Time: About 1 hour and 10 minutes
4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
6-7 pounds sweet potatoes, sliced very thinly (I think I used about 8-9, but it really depends on the size, if you have extra you can always bake the chips on a tray with a little oil and salt and pepper)
4 shallots, peeled and sliced very thinly by hand
Kosher salt and pepper for seasoning.
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Melt butter and oil together in a small saucepan over low heat and pour 2-3 tablespoons into a 9x13 inch baking dish (or about that size). Season butter/oil mixture in baking dish with a little salt and pepper. Start to arrange the potato slices vertically, standing on end, working from the outside in. Every so often, tuck some shallots between the layers. When you are finished assembling, brush the tops of the potatoes with the rest of the butter/oil mixture and season well with more salt and pepper.
2. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and well cooked. Then, turn the oven up to 450º, remove the foil and let the potatoes roast for another 10-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it because the tops get brown fairly quickly and I may have cooked mine for a few minutes too long, although we all liked the blackened parts. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
3. Casserole may be made several hours ahead or even the day before. I made this in the morning and cooked the casserole up until the last step where you remove the foil and turn the oven up to 450ºF. I think you could also make the entire thing ahead and just reheat it and it would be great.
Note: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Crispy Sweet Potato Roast , http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/11/crispy-sweet-potato-roast/