In case it hasn’t occurred to anybody yet, the holiday season is descending upon us. Like, fast. Black Friday is only three weeks away.
(I, of course, will still be in my jammies well past noon that day, nursing a Thanksgiving carb hangover. I’ve only dared to do the 6:00am Target stalk once. I was sooo over-matched and ended up being the only person in the entire store who left with less than what she came in with (my scarf wandered off. Or was used on me as some sort of choke-hold/blackout weapon when I got too close to the marked-down Christmas lights. I never figured out which, but I’m fairly certain lost time was involved.)
So, it’s not too early to begin thinking about holiday parties and all the heart-warming joy and camaraderie they bring.
I’m talking about the food, of course.
Kidding! Of course I mean your people. That’s the best part of the holidays, catching up with the peeps you moved clear across the country to avoid seeing 364 out of 365 days of the year.
Like the adult blood relatives who greet you with kisses on the mouth. Eeew. I’m still traumatized by the vision of crooked-lipsticked lips coming right at me. It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 that I developed the nerve to perfect the bob-weave-twist-cheek-plant maneuver.
So, it really IS about the food.
When I think holiday party food [... trying to recover from grossing myself out with the lips memory ...], I think appetizers. I simply adore appetizers. And these potato stacks will make the cut this year.
Cute as all get out — perfect finger food — the smoky sweetness of the pimenton (smoked paprika) plays off very nicely against the subtle sweetness of the browned-sage-butter-marinated sweet potatoes.
And if you have a mandoline, prep is really fast. I hope you’ll try these — when I made them, the goal was to serve them with dinner. They didn’t make it that long. Slightly crispy edges, tender centers. It turns out, they make a really nice afternoon snack, too.
Sweet Potato Smoky Stacks
inspired by Gourmand Recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Yield: 10 sweet potato stacks
1-2 sweet potatoes, well scrubbed
2 tablespoons butter
5 sage leaves, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
salt for sprinkling
creme fraiche, sour cream, or greek yogurt, and minced chives for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F
Cleanly slice off the end of one potato, and then cut into very thin slices* using a mandoline, or a sharp knife and a steady hand. You’ll be making 10 stacks. Each stack will need 10 slices, for a total of 100 (it sounds much more tedious than it is, especially with a mandoline). Use a second potato, if need be.
Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Allow to simmer and turn brown and fragrant. When the foaming has subsided and the butter gives off a nutty aroma, add the sage and turn off the heat. Allow the sage to infuse the butter for several minutes, stirring frequently.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, begin building the potato stacks. Place one slice from a group of 10 on the parchment and brush lightly with the browned butter. Lay another slice and brush with butter. Continue until the first stack of 10 slices has been created. The edges do not have to line up in a perfect cylinder (in fact, they shouldn’t, for a nice rustic-looking stack. Any edges that stick out will curl up attractively.). Repeat for the other 9 stacks, leaving 3 inches between each stack.
Using your fingers, sprinkle the smoked paprika over the top layers of the stacks. (Your fingers may get orange-y, but that’s okay – cooking is a full contact sport, people). Then top with a small pinch of your favorite salt (gray sea salt is nice).
Place in oven on a rack in the lower 2/3rds of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are browning and curling. Don’t worry if the stacks slip-slide around. Simply realign the stacks after you remove them from the oven. They’ll stay put when cool.
Allow potatoes to cool for 10 minutes. Top each stack with a dab of creme fraiche, sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of chives.
Potato stacks can be served warm or at room temperature, which makes them perfect for holiday entertaining (and they’re easy for guests to handle without a fork).
*somewhere between paper-thin and potato-chip thin