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
Test Kitchen Notes
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_smalls —Food52
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
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the brown sugar. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.