Some of Ottolenghi’s dishes are no-brainers. Just tossing some herbs and easy ingredients with some roasted vegetable or carefully steamed grain. In these it is the combination of the ingredients that make exceptional dishes. But others take time, effort and care. While I prefer the first, the arrival of flavours in the various processes of the second can be a matter of awe.
This dish is definitely of the second variety. It is a great dish. The glaze of a reduced, sticky balsamic with orange juice and bitters caramelises as it roasts. The sweet potatoes are left sticky and delicious. Add to the equation the roasted garlic and the sage and thyme leaves and this is a dish to impress.
I found the goat’s cheese an unnecessary addition, and most of the dish was eaten without it. It is not the first dish of Ottolenghi’s that functions better without the goats cheese. Perhaps he has access to a better quality of cheese in the UK than we have here, or just loves goat cheese.
The finished dish is darkly caramelised and sticky, more-ish and fascinating.
Sticky Balsamic Sweet Potatoes with Orange Bitters
Source: From Plenty More by Ottolenghi
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 50-60 mins
Serves: 4-6 depending how you use it
350 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (the juice of 4 to 5 oranges)
1/3 cup brown sugar
0.25 cup red wine vinegar
60 ml Angostura bitters
1.5 Tblspn olive oil
salt to taste
4 to 5 sweet potatoes, unpeeled, halved crosswise, each half cut into 2.5-cm-wide wedges – about 1.5 kg
2 red chilies, halved lengthwise
3 sage sprigs
10 thyme sprigs
2 heads garlic, unpeeled and halved horizontally
90 g chèvre (goat cheese) log, broken into pieces
Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
Place the orange juice in a saucepan with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down the heat to medium-high and simmer fairly rapidly for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has thickened and reduced to scant 1 cup (about the amount in a large glass of wine). Add the bitters, olive oil, and 1.5 teaspoons salt.
Place the potatoes in a large bowl, add the chillies, sage, thyme, and garlic, and then pour in the reduced sauce. Toss well so that everything is coated and then spread the mixture out in a single layer on a baking sheet on which it fits snugly.
Place in the oven and roast for 50 to 60 minutes, turning and basting the potatoes every 15 minutes or so. They need to remain coated in the liquid in order to caramelize, so add more orange juice if the pan is drying out. At the end, the potatoes should be dark and sticky. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before arranging on a platter and dotting with the goat cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.