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Simple Cooking: How to Roast Perfect Sweet Potatoes

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Nov 4, 2011 4:30PM

Oh joy, it's tuber time at the farmers' markets. We know you've been waiting for this. You probably made a tuber countdown calendar, didn't you? Sweet potatoes are popping up everywhere, and now is the perfect time to grab a few and practice some different techniques of cooking them before Thanksgiving rolls around. Sweet potatoes are good accompaniments to most fall dinners. Try our recipe for spicy roasted sweet potatoes as an alternative to the mashed or sugared, goopy versions. This side dish goes well with savory meats and fish. And please, hold the marshmallows!

Chicagoist's Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Serves 4 as a side dish)
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2 ½ Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (depending on your heat tolerance)

First, step away from the peeler. The skins of sweet potatoes are magical, and we’ll give a nice slap to the face to anyone who says otherwise. Scrub and rinse the sweet potatoes, and dry with a paper towel.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut the potato into one-inch slices, then each slice into 9 cubes (see the picture). This should ensure like-sized sweet potato pieces for even roasting. Put all the cubes into a big bowl.

Drizzle olive oil over the sweet potatoes. Add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat. Make sure all the potatoes get coated - if necessary, add a little extra olive oil.

Turn out the sweet potato pieces onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, flipping with a spatula after 30 minutes. We say “about” because sweet potatoes can easily decide to burn; stay by the oven for the last 20 minutes and check on them obsessively. Like you’re a sweet potato helicopter parent. The final cooking time will depend greatly on the size of your cubes and the efficiency of your oven.

So how do you tell when they are done? The edges should be golden brown, but you can’t go on sight alone. If you’re unsure, just eat a piece. That should tell you if your sweet potatoes need a few more minutes, or if they’re ready for dinner. Each piece of roasted potato should have a crispy edge and a buttery, soft interior.

When your little darlings are ready, serve in a warmed dish right away.