Brown Butter-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Arugula and Bacon

By • September 22, 2011 • 53 Comments

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Author Notes: This is hands-down my favorite side dish to make in the fall and winter. It’s a real crowd-pleaser, the type of dish that makes people swoon when they taste it. Inspired by a Suzanne Goin recipe, I’ve tweaked it to my liking over time (I’ve probably made it over two dozen times, I like it that much!). I’ve always viewed the bacon as a necessity, but it was only recently that it occurred to me to lay the bacon strips over the sweet potatoes while roasting instead of cutting them into lardons and crisping them in a separate pan. This way, the delicious bacon drippings soak into the sweet potatoes and you save yourself a dirty pan. This is the sweet potato dish I serve at Thanksgiving, because in our house, you must have a sweet potato dish AND mashed potatoes at the table. Leftovers heat up beautifully, so I always make the full recipe even if cooking for two.EmilyC

Food52 Review: Reading the ingredient list alone, I knew I was going to enjoy EmilyC's sweet potatoes. The contrasting colors and textures make for an elegant presentation for this comforting side dish. The method for cooking the bacon in the oven on top of the sweet potatoes is super smart and while overall flavor combination is spot on, you can easily adjust the bacon and arugula proportions to suit your tastes. - annie_smallsFood52

Serves 6

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp thinly sliced sage leaves
  • 1 T finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 6 oz arugula, baby arugula preferably or large leaves torn into small pieces
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the brown sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns brown and nutty, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the red pepper flakes, sage and thyme. Pour the brown butter and herbs over the sweet potatoes, making sure to get all of the brown bits. Toss well, thoroughly coating all of the sweet potatoes with the brown butter and herbs. Season with 1 T kosher salt and ¼ tsp pepper and toss again to combine.
  4. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a roasting pan, large enough that the potatoes are in a single layer. (A large sheet pan works well, and I like to line with parchment paper for easy clean-up). Lay the bacon strips evenly across the potatoes. Roast for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelized. After about 15 to 20 minutes, toss the potatoes with a spatula to make sure they’re coated evenly with the brown butter and herbs. Your bacon may be done at this point, depending on its thickness and how crispy you like it. If it's not, just set the bacon strips to the side, toss the potatoes, then lay them back across the potatoes for more time in the oven.
  5. When they're done, remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and put them into a serving bowl. Let cool for a few minutes, then toss in the arugula. You want the arugula to slightly wilt but retain some of its shape. Crumble the bacon over the sweet potatoes and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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3 months ago Michelle Trim

Made this tonight. The only thing was that the potatoes came out very greasy. I wonder if I should have used leaner bacon.

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3 months ago EmilyC

Hi Michelle: I suspect you're right about the bacon. I never use extra lean bacon, but then again, I've never used thick-cut or slab bacon either. If you want to use that type of bacon, maybe you could crisp the bacon separately next time, either in the oven or stove top. Thanks for trying this and reporting back!

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3 months ago Michelle Trim

I did use slab bacon so that was probably the issue. Thanks for the reply.

Stringio

about 1 year ago Ruta

Wow, thiks looks great. Takes care of a few of those CSA ingredients.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks -- hope you like it! : )

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about 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wow, great recipe . . . thinking perhaps some toasted pepitas or pine nuts would be a nice substitute for the bacon, if serving with pork/pancetta. We are avid fans of arugula here, too, so this looks just about perfect. Saved!! ;o)

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Thanks AJ! I think toasted pepitas or pine nuts would work nicely here. I've made this to serve with lots of mains (turkey, chicken, steak) but my absolute favorite pairing is pork. Hope it's a hit if you try it.

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about 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

oh yes, i uhave all the ingredients....this is going into our faux (we live in Nigeria, where Thanksgiving isnt a celebrated holiday) Thanksgiving feast tonight!!!

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about 2 years ago EmilyC

That's great that you're doing a faux feast (how fun!). I'm happy you're making the potatoes, hope you enjoy them! Have a wonderful meal!

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over 2 years ago savorthis

Yum. Glad that this was surfaced again. Sweet potatoes and bacon are such a magical combination and I'm still up to my ears in sage. I think this will pair nicely with the salt crusted fish we are doing tonight!

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over 2 years ago EmilyC

Of all my FOOD52 recipes, this is the one I make the most. I made it a ridiculous number of times last year. It + salt-crusted fish sounds fantastic. Is this going to be your celebratory dinner for your winning recipe? Congrats again -- very happy for you!

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over 2 years ago savorthis

I bet! We do a similar hash-type dish with shallots, bacon, sweet potatoes that we usually serve with grilled rib eye and a sriracha, truffled mayo type dip. But fish was already on the docket for tonight. I made it in a salt crust last week with a version of those brown butter tomatoes and it was so good we decided to do it again. Thanks for the congrats!

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about 3 years ago LeslieMac23

Thanks for this great recipe. I plan on making it for Thanksgiving, but I used the cooking method and then added the bacon infused roasted sweet potatoes to a soup. While the potatoes were roasting, I sauteed chopped leaks, finely chopped celery and grated ginger into a stock pot. Once the potatoes were done, I added them to the pot with chicken stock (8 cups), orange juice (1 cup) and brought to a boil. Then reduced the heat and let simmer for about 20 min. Pureed the entire pot with an emersion blender (you could also use a food processor with small batches of the mixture). Garnished each bowl with a dollop of Crème fraîche and of course the crumbled bacon that cooked into top of the potatoes in the first place! YUMMY!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

What a great idea to use the brown-butter roasted sweet potatoes as the base for a soup! Sounds delicious -- I'm going to try this, too! Thanks for reporting back, and I'm really happy you're making this for Thanksgiving.

Stringio

about 1 year ago tastysweet

That soup sounds marvelous. I was just thinking about making a soup tomorrow. That will be the one. Thanks for the idea.
And Emily, thanks for the basic recipe.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

Please report back on the soup -- I've yet to try this idea but think it's a great one!

Stringio

about 1 year ago tastysweet

Oops, time ran away with me today. Postponing g soup until weekend. Will let you know.

Stringio

about 1 year ago tastysweet

Haven't made yet. But I will. Can you tell me approximately how much leeks and celery?
Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving. May bring this to a TG dinner.

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about 1 year ago EmilyC

I'd probably go with one large leek and one rib of celery -- that's usually what I do when making soup. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This sounds incredible. I think I could just eat a large serving for supper one night!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, HLA! There's something about sweet potatoes + a little brown sugar + browned butter that is magical. And I'm with you, I've definitely made dinner out of this dish before!

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about 3 years ago Waverly

Emily, this was incredibly delicious. I made a few adaptations (I opted for using bacon fat instead of butter- I am sure I will have a heart attack soon) and spinach. It was outstanding.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Waverly -- just now seeing your comment. I'm so happy you liked the dish (and with extra bacon fat -- yum!) -- thanks for reporting back!

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about 3 years ago Angela Wilson-Nowlin

This sounds so good...I will have to try it!!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Angela -- hope you try it and like it! Be sure to report back!

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about 3 years ago Angela Wilson-Nowlin

This sounds so good...I will have to try it!!

www.thedinnerpage.com

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

This sounds amazing, EmilyC!! I love your tweak of laying the bacon right over the sweet potatoes. We always have sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes as well and I'm saving this to try. Thanks for the recipe!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks gingerroot! I like sweet and mashed potatoes so much at Thanksgiving that I don't think I'd miss the turkey!

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about 3 years ago lapadia

Browned butter ans bacon...oh my, love that! Also love that this is a sweet potato side w/o all the sweetness often found as a topping. Would be sub spinach for Arugula, though.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks lapadia! It's just enough brown sugar to aid the caramelization of the potatoes. I'm not a fan of a lot of sweetness, either. And spinach is a great substitute!

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over 3 years ago inpatskitchen

We must have sweet potatoes and mashed at our house too on Thanksgiving..This one sounds wonderful!! Saved!!

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, inpatskitchen -- hope you're able to try it sometime!

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over 3 years ago Waverly

Saved. Thanks for a great recipe!

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

You're quite welcome, Waverly!

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over 3 years ago wssmom

Bacon and sage and arugula, wow. Just, wow. :)

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

My sentiments, exactly. I have not heretofore been a huge fan of sage, but I know it's going to be positively delicious in this! ;o)

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks wssmom! Don't forget brown butter! : ) The sage is a must here, and this comes from someone who isn't crazy about it...

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

love

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, drbabs!

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Yumm, indeed. On the must-make list. Wonderful recipe, EmilyC. ;o)

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks AJ! I'd love to know if you end up trying it. And by the way, I just finished my third piece of your coffee cake...so good...

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, we definitely will try this, but I'm thinking I probably will use less brown sugar and may even splash on some red wine vinegar before serving. And maybe roast some onions with the sweet potatoes. I'm so looking forward to it!! ;o) P.S. Thanks for the kind words about the coffee cake . . . . .

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

It's definitely adaptable, so have fun with it! The original Suzanne Goin recipe calls for 1/3 cup brown sugar but I reduced to 1/4 cup. (And she calls for two sticks of butter, by the way. I practically NEVER reduce butter in recipes, but 6 T is just right in my opinion to coat the potatoes without an excessive amount pooling in the bottom of the pan.)

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over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Yum yum! I make something almost exactly the same, but with spinach instead of arugula. I love the idea of peppery arugula here though!

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, fiveandspice! You really can't go wrong with either spinach or arugula, but I agree, the peppery notes are nice here.

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over 3 years ago Midge

Sweet potatoes, bacon, and brown butter? Seriously yum. This is going in my thanksgiving file.

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, Midge! It's definitely a good Thanksgiving side. And I have to admit, I now have a hard time preparing sweet potatoes any other way!

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over 3 years ago AntoninDevourChoc

This looks really good. I like the arugula with this. Kind of unexpected and it balances the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the salty, smoky bacon.

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thank you -- I like the arugula for the same reasons!

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over 3 years ago Bevi

Wow is right! The flavors sound complex and delicious.

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Bevi! The brown butter takes the roasted sweet potatoes to a whole new level! Well, and the bacon doesn't hurt.

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, sdebrango! It definitely has the "wow" factor in my opinion. It's also fun to play around with, subbing spinach for arugula, butternut squash for sweet potato, etc. But this version is my favorite.

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This sounds so incredibly good it will definitely make it to my Thanksgiving dinner, every year I try a different sweet potato recipe and they are always ok but never WOW, this year will be different.