Vegetable Sides

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes with Sage, Bacon and Spinach… need I say more!

Yea, this dish is a keeper.  Well anything that reads caramelized “blank” with bacon usually gets my attention, and keeps it … and then I make it!

This dish was originally meant to go with the brined pork chops with romesco sauce that I posted last night.  But it took me so long to finish that post that I thought to myself these potatoes need their own spotlight anyway! Being new to blogging and writing posts, I think I spend too much time being indecisive over the little details.  I’m sure with time I’ll loosen up some more and get comfortable being myself on paper (and not feel like I’m in english class trying to write that perfectly constructed essay… the nightmares still haunt me!)

So back to the recipe!  Again, a Suzanne Goin creation.  This is out of her Sunday Supers at Lucques cookbook, and its one of her more manageable recipes. There’s a lot of butter involved, which is delicious if you’re doing something special, but for every day cooking, I’ve substituted it with a bit less olive oil and it was still really delicious.

The brown butter is the first step. Take 2 sticks butter and melt over medium/low heat for 5-7 minutes, until the milk solids are golden brown. Once they start to color, they can burn quickly so keep a good eye on them those last 2 minutes.

Next, heat 1 cup of sherry in a little saucepan (on high) and reduce by half.  4-5 minutes.  Have the butter and sherry simmering away at the same time.

Next peel your sweet potatoes and chop them into roughly 1 1/2  inch chunks.  In a bowl, pour the brown butter over the sweet potatoes and toss them with brown sugar, 1 Tbsp sea salt, 1 tsp black pepper, sliced sage, and minced thyme. If you substitute with dried herbs, use about half as much since the dried herbs are more potent.

In your 400 degree preheated oven, roast the potatoes for 50 minutes to an hour, tossing them around about with a metal spatula 3 times during this process so that all sides get nicely browned.  In the meantime, chop your bacon into little pieces, and fry until nicely crisp. Wash and dry your spinach, removing any long stems you might not want.

When your sweet potatoes are done, scoop them into a bowl and toss with bacon and spinach, poor some of the browned butter left in the baking pan over the top and using tongs lightly toss.  Check for seasonings, adding a bit more salt and black pepper.

Its sooooooooo good! enjoy!
prok chop final

Alternatives: This dish is still great without the bacon and spinach.  I always love to toss my quartered sweet potatoes in brown sugar, but I’ll use a few tablespoons coarse grained Dijon mustard to replace the reduced sherry.  Arugula is also great as a bed to put the potatoes on, just make sure they’ve cooled a bit because its more likely to wilt from the heat.

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes with Sage, Bacon and Spinach
4 lbs garnet sweet potatoes
1 cup sherry
2 sticks unsalted butter or 8 ounces
1/3 lb bacon, cup into lardons
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp sliced sage
1 Tb minced thyme leaves
1/2 lb baby spinach
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

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Appetizers, Vegetable Sides

Proscuitto & Broccolini with creamy dijon sauce

I love bacon, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who doesn’t love love love it too. Perhaps there are some who can’t or won’t eat it … but that doesn’t mean that they still don’t have bacon envy!

Proscuitto is the less greasy cousin to bacon, and I go equally crazy for it.  Lets just say, sometimes the proscuitto mysteriously disappears on the way home from the grocery store.  Its not really so mysterious… I can’t help myself.  Oh well, I have serious lack of self restraint when it comes to this stuff.  It’s that good!

Now the really addictive variety is the freshly cut proscuitto di parma; its so moist and has just the right balance of salty and sweet. The pre-cut vaccuum sealed stuff is 2nd rate to this.  But I’ll work with what I can get and what I can afford, and sometimes that’s the packaged proscuitto.

How can you refuse broccolini when it’s covered with proscuitto and this creamy whole grain dijon sauce (personally I even love it simply sauteed with garlic and olive oil)?   I used fat free greek yogurt in the sauce, but you could just as well use sour cream or creme fraiche if you wanted it even more decadent.

To make the sauce, add 1/3 cup (about 5 T) plain greek yogurt to a small bowl.  I love this stuff! I swear I can’t tell it apart from sour cream on a baked potato. Such a great healthy alternative!

Next add the vinegar or lemon juice and 3 T whole grain dijon mustard.  The whole grain gives the sauce texture.  You could just substitute regular dijon, but whole grain just looks a bit more sophisticated (if you’re an occasional food snob like me, you care about these things…)

and 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Stir and add 1 Tablespoon minced shallots, or red onion.

Now tear off any large leaves still on the stems, and chop off a bit of the ends. Cut the largest stalks lengthwise, to cut down on grill time.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and some kosher (coarse grained) salt.

Preheat your grill to high, and then using tongs place your broccolini on the grill.  Turn the heat down to medium, and grill for 3 minutes per side.  Even after you take them off the heat, they’ll still cook a little.  So I always take them off a bit crisp.

Assemble on your plates, drizzling the sauce here and there.  You could even drizzle the broccolini with sauce and wrap each individually with proscuitto as a more finger food hor d’oeuvre… mmmmmm.   Enjoy!

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1/4 lb Proscuitto di Parma

1 1/2 lbs brocolini

3 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche

1/2 lemon or 2 tsp sherry or wine vinegar, for acidity

1 Tablespoon minced shallot

salt and pepper to adjust seasonong

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