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Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Erika Joyce
  • Active Time

    1 hour

  • Total Time

    1 hour

Often, the less you do to an ingredient the better it tastes. Put some sweet potatoes in the embers, ashes, and coals of your campfire or your grill, then sit back. Watch the geese winging overhead in great convoys. An hour or two later, pluck a slow-roasted sweet potato from the ashes. Split it, serve with butter, and you will be satisfied. Add a few other ingredients and you’ll begin to see how a bit of inspiration and intuition will allow you to keep reinventing this simple recipe.

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Ingredients

4 equal-size sweet potatoes, scrubbed
4 Tbsps. unsalted butter
Fleur de sel
Crushed red pepper flakes
Almond-mint gremolata and yogurt (for serving, optional)
A handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
⅓ cup (35 g) chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
½ cup (118 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
¼ tsp. honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fleur de sel
1 cup (237 ml) plain yogurt, chilled

Step 1

Prepare a fire and let the charcoal burn down to a bed of embers, coals, and ashes for rescoldo. If cooking indoors, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Step 2

Bury the sweet potatoes in the embers, coals, and ashes, making sure they are completely and evenly covered. Roast until they are tender all the way through. If cooking indoors, arrange the sweet potatoes on a sheet pan and roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender all the way through. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the sweet potatoes: after about 20 minutes, part the embers with long-handled tongs and try to pierce a sweet potato all the way through with a long bamboo skewer. It will probably meet with some resistance toward the center and feel about half baked. Turn the potatoes over with the tongs and replace the embers and ashes, adjusting them as necessary for even cooking, and roast for about 20 minutes longer. When the sweet potatoes are done, carefully dig them out and wipe off the ashes with a dish towel or paper towels.

Step 3

Turn the potatoes over with the tongs and replace the embers and ashes, adjusting them as necessary for even cooking, and roast for about 20 minutes longer. When the sweet potatoes are done, carefully dig them out and wipe off the ashes with a dish towel or paper towels.

Step 4

If serving simply with butter and crushed red pepper flakes, split the sweet potatoes open, add a tablespoon of butter to each, and season to taste with fleur de sel and red pepper flakes. Otherwise, omit the butter, fleur de sel, and red pepper flakes, and continue to the next step.

Step 5

If serving with yogurt and almond-mint gremolata, make the gremolata while the potatoes are roasting. Whisk together the parsley, mint, almonds, olive oil, honey, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Step 6

When the sweet potatoes are done, cool them very slightly, then cut them crosswise in half. With your fingers protected by a dish towel, slowly push the skin inward so the insides explode up from the top. Transfer the sweet potatoes to serving plates. Sprinkle with fleur de sel to taste, drizzle with olive oil, and add a large spoonful of cold yogurt to each potato. Spoon some gremolata over the yogurt and serve the rest on the side.

Excerpted from Green Fire by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022. Photographs by William Hereford. Buy the full book from Workman or Amazon.

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