There’s not much to say about baking a sweet potato, right? Put it in the oven until soft; remove; add butter. Wrong. Sweet potatoes can and should take a lot of heat. If you happen to have fired up a barbecue, leave sweet potatoes in the embers until they look burnt; the resulting intensely flavoured and near-molten flesh will be a revelation. At other times, the secret is to double cook it. The second time round, blast it for a few minutes at the hottest temperature your oven can go to. You could do the first stage well in advance if other things are going on in the oven; in that case, just add 2–3 more minutes to the blast time.
If you can get hold of sobrasada, the Spanish cured and spiced spreadable sausage (or alternatively, Italian ’nduja), then definitely use it. Cured pork fat improves most things, and a sweet potato is no exception. You can use the same cooking method without the sobrasada: just double the butter and mix 1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika into it, and add the dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper as per the recipe. It’s great with lamb chops, pretty much anything beefy or porky, and with crisp, golden-skinned chicken thighs, too.
- Yield: 6 Servings
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
- 30 g butter, at room temperature
- 60 g sobrasada or ’nduja
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 230˚C/ Fan 210˚C/Gas 8. Rub the sweet potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt. Put them on a baking tray, prick each potato a few times with a fork and bake for about 40 minutes until soft and sunken. Meanwhile, mix the butter and sobrasada together.
- Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and turn it up as high as it will go. Very carefully (because the insides are piping hot), cut the potatoes in half lengthways and place them cut-side up on the baking tray. Distribute the butter and cured sausage mixture evenly over the halves, give each one a couple of grinds of pepper and sprinkle the oregano over the top.
- When the oven is up to temperature, bake the potatoes for a further 6–10 minutes, or until the skin dries and hardens and the top is sizzling and starting to crisp.