The San Juan Daily Star
Refresh your sweet potatoes with fried eggs
By Melissa Clark
The only complaint my husband, Daniel, has about my cooking is that every time I make something he loves, I never cook it again.
It’s not that I mean to never cook it again; it’s that I can’t help but wonder, what would happen if I stirred in a pinch of this or a drizzle of that? Would it make the dish brighter, fuller, tastier? To me, this tweaking is part of the fun, one of the main reasons I love to cook.
And so it went recently when I set out to make some coconut oil roasted sweet potatoes, a recipe I developed in 2011 and still regularly riff on.
Over the past decade, I’ve switched up the spices, added other vegetables, layered on sauces, proteins and herbs. As long as I didn’t mess with the bones of the recipe — the coconut oil, the sweet potatoes, the roasting temperature — I really couldn’t go wrong. The sweet potatoes would always end up richly flavored and delicately crisp on the outside, velvety within.
That is, as long as I didn’t take the sweet potatoes out of the oven early.
As Steven D., a reader, wrote in the notes of the original recipe online at New York Times Cooking, “The potatoes are soft after a half-hour or so, but then the crusts harden in the second half-hour, giving them the delicious texture that makes the dish unique.”
The last time I made this dish, I wanted to serve it as a main course rather than as a side. So I took the well-trodden path of putting an egg on top — in this case, fried in coconut oil until the edges ruffled and crisped, turning brittle and brown.
Of course, thinking about fried eggs made me crave a side of bacon. But since I wanted to go meatless, I approximated bacon’s brawniness with a dash of smoked paprika. It added complexity to the potatoes and gave a jolt of color to the eggs right at the end, the deep red powder streaking orange in the yolks.
I also added chopped salted almonds for crunch and a creamy, garlicky yogurt sauce to bring together the elements. It made for a wonderfully cozy, satisfying meal that I’ll probably never make again.
But you can make it as often as you like, tweaked to your heart’s content.
Smoky sweet potatoes with eggs and almonds
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt, plus more as needed
3/4 teaspoon garam masala, Baharat, curry powder or another spice mix
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
3 to 5 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 small garlic clove, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
Eggs, for frying, as many as you like
1/2 cup chopped Marcona or salted, roasted almonds
Soft herbs, such as parsley, mint or cilantro, for serving
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. In a large bowl, toss together sweet potatoes, melted coconut oil, salt, spice mix, smoked paprika, cumin, black pepper and thyme.
2. Spread the potatoes in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
3. Roast, stirring and flipping the potatoes occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 1 hour.
4. As the potatoes roast, place yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in garlic, a large pinch or two of smoked paprika, and salt and black pepper to taste.
5. In a large skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat and let it heat up for 20 to 30 seconds. Crack eggs into skillet and season with salt. Cook until the whites have set with crispy edges and the yolks are still runny, about 2 to 3 minutes (or cook the eggs for a few minutes longer for a medium or firm yolk, if you prefer).
6. To serve, spoon sweet potatoes onto individual plates and top with yogurt sauce and almonds. Place eggs on top, and sprinkle with paprika and herbs. Serve immediately.