Sweet Potato Confit With Chorizo and Crème Fraîche
Chefs have a way of taking the most humble ingredient and elevating it, which is what Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog & Hominy in Memphis did with sweet potatoes. The trick is to confit thick slices slow in fat, which transforms the texture into silk. They use pork fat at their restaurants, but home cooks can get a similar effect with olive oil seasoned with some bacon fat. It works well with olive oil alone, too. The chefs also make their own chorizo, and mix up their own crème fraîche with heavy cream and buttermilk, then spike it with yuzu. Home cooks can make things more reasonable using pre-made chorizo and store-bought crème fraîche with a hit of lemon juice (though yuzu is better if you can find it). The confit itself can be done a day or two ahead of time. Just lift the sweet potato slices from the oil and chill them. (To save a few minutes, you can toast the pecans in the oven as you bake the sweet potatoes.) A last note: It does seem like a daunting amount of olive oil, so a reasonably inexpensive brand will do. The leftover oil can be saved in the refrigerator to slick the bottom of the sauté pan or round out a pasta sauce for future meals.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1(8-ounce) container crème fraîche
- 2tablespoons lemon or yuzu juice
- 2pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 or 3)
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- About 3 cups olive oil, depending on the size of the baking dish
- ½cup bacon fat (optional)
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½pound spicy fresh chorizo
- ½cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- ¼cup mint leaves, torn
Step 1In a small bowl, mix together crème fraîche and citrus juice and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the dish. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2Scrub but do not peel the sweet potatoes, then slice into 1/2-inch-thick disks. Place in a single layer in one large baking dish, or in 2 smaller baking dishes if all the slices won’t fit. (A few slices can overlap, but keep this to a minimum.) Season well with salt and black pepper. Pour in enough olive oil to just cover slices. If a few edges are exposed, don’t worry. If also using bacon fat, pour or spoon it over the slices.
Step 3Bake for 1 hour or until fork tender. Remove the baking dish from the oven, let the oil cool slightly, then carefully remove the slices with a slotted spatula, letting most of the oil drip back into the baking dish before placing the slices on a plate or sheet pan. Reserve 4 tablespoons oil and set aside. (At this point the slices can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
Step 4In a large, heavy skillet, place 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil, the butter and the chorizo over medium heat. Cook, breaking up the sausage into the smallest bits you can and stirring occasionally to render the fat, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 5Heat another large sauté pan, or a griddle over medium-high heat, and add the sweet potato slices in batches, frying a couple of minutes on each side until they start to crisp and caramelize. (The sweet potatoes can cook in the pan without additional fat, but if they are sticking, you can use a bit more of the reserved oil.) Add sweet potatoes and pecans to the pan with the chorizo and gently turn the slices a few times until they are well coated, being careful not to break them.
Step 6Remove sweet potatoes to a serving plate, spoon remaining chorizo-pecan mixture evenly over the slices, then add small dollops of creme fraîche. Sprinkle with torn mint leaves. Serve immediately, with any remaining crème fraîche on the side.