Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Garlic Bread Crumbs
Side Dish, Dinner
6 large sweet potatoes, about 4-4 ½ lbs.
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped for potatoes, plus 1 tbsp. for crumb mixture
¼ cup chives, chopped (or scallion, thinly sliced)
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
STEP 1:Bake the sweet potatoes: Preheat your oven to 325°F. Thoroughly wash sweet potatoes in plain water, drain, and then dry well with paper towels. Place a baking rack onto a sheet pan covered with foil. Arrange the sweet potatoes onto the rack so that they have some space between them. Prick the skins of each sweet potato a couple times with a small knife.
STEP 2:Next, dip your fingers into the vegetable oil and rub each sweet potato with oil so it is lightly coated with oil but not dripping. Place the sheet pan of sweet potatoes into the hot oven and bake them for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a cake tester or toothpick can be inserted easily. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the sweet potatoes for about two hours, on their rack, to cool them completely. This also helps them firm up for slicing.
STEP 3:Portion the sweet potatoes: Now cut about an inch or so of the tapered ends off each sweet potato. Cut each potato into pieces about 2 inches thick. You may get 2 or 3 pieces from each sweet potato, depending on its overall shape. The goal is to yield 12 portions of sweet potato. At this stage, the sweet potatoes can be held in a container for a couple days in the refrigerator.
STEP 4:Hollow out the sweet potatoes: Brush a casserole dish that is large enough to hold all the sweet potato pieces with a light coating of vegetable oil. Using a melon baller, remove small scoops of the cooked sweet potato flesh from each piece. Place all the sweet potato flesh into a medium mixing bowl. Continue removing flesh so that there is a ¼-inch rim around the skin side of each piece and so there’s a good, solid base at the bottom. If the bottom of the sweet potato is too thin the filling may darken or burn during the second baking. Once all the sweet potato pieces have been hollowed out place them into the casserole dish.
STEP 5:Make filling and fill sweet potatoes: Mash the scoops of sweet potato with a whisk till they are fairly smooth. Add the salt, pepper, chopped herbs and the Parmesan cheese and mix in with the whisk. Add the egg off to one side of the bowl and beat it with a fork. Add the cream to the egg and mix the two together with the fork. Now blend the egg mixture into the sweet potato mixture with the whisk until the mixture is evenly blended together. Fill a large ziplock bag with the filling, keeping the filling in one corner. Cut the corner off the bag and squeeze the filling into the hollowed-out sweet potato portions. Make sure each potato portion receives enough filling to come nearly to the top of each cavity. Then go around and give them all a bit more filling until it is used up. The sweet potatoes should look a little like cupcakes with icing once they’re filled.
STEP 6:Bake and serve the sweet potatoes: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cover the sweet potatoes lightly with a piece of foil then place the casserole of sweet potatoes into the oven and bake them for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle the garlic breadcrumbs over each portion of sweet potato. Return them to the oven and bake another 15 minutes. Remove sweet potatoes from the oven and serve hot. Makes about 12 portions.
Chef’s Note: This recipe can be prepared 2-3 days in advance. Keep the filling separate from the sweet potatoes and fill just before baking. This recipe is also a nice vegetarian option in a holiday meal.