With autumn in full swing and Thanksgiving fast approaching, sweet potatoes are in peak season. Chefs love the tawny-tinted tubers because they work well in both savory and sweet preparations. Here are 11 stellar sweet potato dishes showcasing the highly versatile root vegetable.
Sweet Potato Cake at Bub City, Chicago, Illinois
Think of this as autumn’s answer to carrot cake. Forged out of roasted sweet potatoes accented with cinnamon and vanilla, the triple layer treat is held together with bourbon brown sugar cream cheese frosting. Wavy sweet potato chips top it off to add color and crunch. Make a reservation at Bub City.
Sweet Potato Casserole at Wildfire, Chicago, Illinois
The team is offering this Southern staple exclusively on their Thanksgiving menu. A casserole of mashed sweet potatoes topped with baby marshmallows is baked in the oven till the top turns gooey and golden. Though it’s a side dish for the dinner, it tastes decidedly like dessert. Make a reservation at Wildfire.
Sweet Potato Beignets at SoBou, New Orleans, Lousiana
Made with sweet potatoes, which add tones of earthy caramel, these beignets are the B-O-M-B. Chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez serves the tender treats with foie gras fondue and a ganache made with duck debris and chicory coffee. Don’t feel bad if you don’t share; we wouldn’t either. Make a reservation at SoBou.
Sweet Potato and Chicken Risotto at BRIO Tuscan Grille, McLean, Virginia
Balancing richness and levity, the creamy risotto stars shreds of roasted chicken and sweet potato squares. Bits of pancetta and pine nuts add savoriness, while asparagus tips bring a springy sweetness to the thyme-seasoned entree. Just the thing you need to warm you up and power you through these I-can’t-believe-it’s-dark-at-five-o-clock days. Make a reservation at BRIO Tuscan Grille.
Chocolate Dome Miami at Pisco y Nazca, Miami, Florida
The smooth chocolate dome melts away as hot white chocolate ganache is poured over it. This reveals sweet potato custard, chocolate ganache, and caramel popcorn. Scooping up a spoonful creates a bite evoking pumpkin pie mixed with Cracker Jacks and molten lava cake. Make a reservation at Pisco y Nazca.
Sweet Potato Casserole at Fixe, Austin, Texas
Inspired by his mother’s sweet potato casserole, executive chef James Robert adds a few bonus bits. By which we mean whipped molasses and pork cracklins. With a dark sweetness balanced out by the right amount of salt, it works well as a side dish for mains like pork roast and smoked veal brisket. Make a reservation at Fixe.
Sweet Potato Cake at Firefly, Washington, D.C.
Executive chef Jammir Gray is not a big fan of pumpkins. So she devised this sweet potato cake as an alternative. Served warm, it comes with a snowdrift of warm marshmallow and crunchy bits of nutmeg sponge candy. Somewhat ironically, servers will tell you it evokes the flavors of Starbucks’ PSL – and they’re not wrong. Make a reservation at Firefly.
Sweet Potato Soup at Trace, Austin, Texas
The soup game here is on point. Served on Thanksgiving only, the sweet potato soup comes with a spicy, smoky ancho chili marshmallow to add fire and sweet potato chips for texture. Remember: it’s rude to stick your face in the bowl to try to lick the last bits off the bottom. Make a reservation at Trace.
Sweet Potato Biscuits and Gravy at Atwood, Chicago, Illinois
At this time of year, there are few brunch dishes that give us as much joy as biscuits and gravy. Executive chef Brian Millman adds sweet potatoes to his biscuits to give them a touch of sugary goodness. Splitting them open, he ladles on sausage-enhanced gravy accented with rosemary. Worth every calorie and then some. Make a reservation at Atwood.
Sweet Potato Crisp at Ivy Kitchen, Dallas, Texas
Do you have this for dinner or dessert? Frankly, we wouldn’t be disappointed either way. Whipped sweet potatoes come topped with a pecan crisp that would work equally well on a pie or sprinkled on a sundae. Make a reservation at Ivy Kitchen.
Coal Roasted Sweet Potato at Imperial, Portland, Oregon
We love charred sweet potatoes because the blackening brings out the tuber’s darkest sugar notes. Additionally, the high heat transforms the starchy center into a creamy mess, which here gets lavished with charred onion butter and pepita salsa. Even the skin is a rare treat, rich with the flavor of barely scorched molasses. Make a reservation at Imperial.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Justin Saper (Bub City); Cultivate PR (Fixe); Jennifer Hughes (Firefly); Jessica Fradono (Trace); Ivy Kitchen (Ivy Kitchen); Anjali Pinto (Wildfire).