As much as some find sweet potato casserole a must for fall feasting, and with the risk of sounding like a holiday heathen, I will do anything — with the exception of the occasional campfire s’more — to avoid topping food with marshmallows. Enter this variation on sweet potatoes, where they get boiled and smashed and crisped up in the oven. They won’t win any beauty prizes, but they are almost as addictive as a potato chip and great for game-day viewing or holiday snacking.
Look for similar-sized, round sweet potatoes — not the long, thinner varieties — so you’ll have nice fat, round circles. Cut them into thick slices but don’t worry about how big they seem; they will be boiled and smashed to about half their size. The fresh squeeze of lime is a must to bring the heat of the chile and the sweetness of the potato together.
If you want to go sweeter, top each smashed round with a bit of brown sugar, butter and some fluffy mini marshmallows — I promise not to judge — before baking. If you’re not a fan of sweet potatoes or want to try a more savory variation, use gold or red potatoes; top with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese and freshly-ground black pepper and, why not gild the lily with some crispy bits of bacon or prosciutto? This is my new favorite side that will be appearing alongside the turkey and other standards during this end-of-year holiday feasting, but it could also shine as a weeknight main salad with winter greens and some leftover chicken or fish.
Crispy smashed sheet-pan sweet potatoes
Makes 4 to 6 servings, as a side dish
2 medium sweet potatoes, (1 ½ to 2 pounds), sliced crosswise into 1-inch thick slices
Fine salt, freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, thinly sliced
2 ounces queso fresco or grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut potatoes crosswise into 1-inch thick slices. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the potato slices. Boil until potatoes are tender and easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Depending on the potato, this could take between 15 and 20 minutes. Keep checking to make sure potatoes are tender all the way through but not overcooked and mushy. Remove potatoes as they are ready. Drain carefully in a colander and set aside.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over a sheet pan and coat the bottom. Place potatoes on a cutting board. Lightly grease the bottom of a heavy drinking glass or measuring cup and smash the potatoes, twisting gently until potatoes are flattened to about half their size. Gently add the smashed potatoes to the sheet pan and toss to coat with oil, spreading potatoes in an even layer. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each with a slice or two of jalapeño and divide cheese evenly over potato slices. Roast for 10 minutes. Rotate pan and roast another 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden. If you want extra crispiness, heat broiler to high and place sheet pan under broiler and cook for 5 minutes or until bubbling. Serve warm; squeeze half the lime over the potatoes and top with fresh cilantro, and the other half of lime cut into wedges.