What’s more warming and comforting than a pup snoozing beside you on the couch? Trick question…nothing! But I can tell you what comes close. A big bowl of roasted sweet potatoes fresh out of the oven. This week’s recipe comes from local food writer and cook, Julia Turshen, who shares with us one of her favorite ways to prepare this tasty orange tuber—with pancetta and soft, melty red onions.
Speaking of sweetness, I couldn’t resist featuring her dog, Hope, along with this recipe. Often seen frolicking at McCarren Park or sporting a cozy dog sweater on Instagram, Hope is a regular dog about town.
What’s even more sweet is that Julia’s wife, Grace (of Design*Sponge), adopted Hope from The Sato Project, an organization that rescues abandoned and abused dogs in Puerto Rico. But I digress (for a good cause!). If you’ve been considering adopting an abandoned dog or cat, check out some of our local shelters and pet spots. Unleash on Franklin has lots of furry friends featured on their website, and check out the local dog rescue, Dog Habitat for even more needy pups looking for a place to call home. Big or small, spazzy or mellow, there are so many good eggs than need loving families.
Now then. Let’s makes some comfort food!
Julia Turshen’s Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions and Pancetta
I recently worked on a recipe for a red onion jam— essentially a lovely mess of cooked-down onions. Recently, Grace combined the leftovers with crispy pancetta and roasted sweet potatoes and, just like that, our new go-to side dish was born. Here’s a simplified version.
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 pound pancetta, finely diced
1 very large red onion, very finely sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the sweet potatoes on it. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and the chili flakes and use your hands to toss everything together. Roast the sweet potatoes, stirring a couple of times, until very tender and browned, about 45 minutes. Set the sweet potatoes aside.
Meanwhile, place the pancetta in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl and set it aside. Place the sliced onions into the skillet (add a little olive oil if there’s not enough fat in the pan— it will depend on how much fat is in the pancetta; just trust your instincts here). Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the onions, stirring them now and then, until they’re very collapsed and soft and browned in spots, about half an hour. Stir in the sugar and vinegar and cook until the liquid is evaporated, a final 5-10 minutes. Season the onions to taste with salt.
To finish the dish, combine the sweet potatoes, onions and reserved pancetta— you can do this directly in the skillet. Serve warm.
Thanks so much for the recipe, Julia!
Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg