The best way to prepare sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily smothered in mini marshmallows. Instead, switch things up with sweet potato dressing. Tossed and baked with salty pancetta and sweet chunks of figs, this is a can’t miss side dish. Sweet and savory flavors mesh together beautifully in this dressing featuring shredded sweet potatoes, California figs, crisped pancetta, and fresh thyme.
Sweet and Savory Side Dish
Yams and sweet potatoes are so packed with nutrition, including vitamin B6, vitamin A, carotene, and potassium. For this recipe we used California sweetpotatoes… but there are more than just one kind of sweet potato: the Jewell and Garnet, which are both sweet when cooked, orange-skinned, and orange-fleshed. Learn more about the other two varieties here. Is there a best way to prepare sweet potatoes? This is definitely one of them! Sweet potato “toasts” with blue cheese and figs are a tasty appetizer. They are the star in sweet potato biscuits with black pepper and figs and rather than serving pumpkin pie, this sweet potato pie is great for Thanksgiving. If you’re wondering what to do with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, they are a great add-in to Turkey Sweet Potato Curry.
Sweet and Salty: Figs and Pancetta
Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid Mission figs bring a certain amount of jammy sweetness that is bold enough to stand up to crisped pancetta. It also adds a contrast of color to the sweet potato dressing too. Golden Figs would work as a substitute for the Mission Figs; the sweetness will be more subtle and slightly nutty. Pancetta is cured pork belly, which describes bacon too, though a difference between them is in the curing. Also, if pancetta is not available, feel free to swap in bacon.
Holiday Meal Planning
It’d be great alongside your Thanksgiving turkey, of course, but also with roast chicken, pork, lamb and beef – it really is the best way to prepare sweet potatoes. This Fig Pancetta Sweet Potato Dressing also works great as a do-ahead dish— you can prepare the dressing through step four in advance, then store it covered in the refrigerator. Take the casserole out of the fridge to return it to room temperature before proceeding.
Fig Pancetta Sweet Potato Dressing
- 10 ounces diced pancetta see note
- 1 1/2 cups sliced shallots 6 to 8
- 12 ounces orange-fleshed California sweet potatoes coarsely shredded
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs sliced, stemmed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper or more to taste
- 12 cups 3/4-inch diced or torn French or Italian bread with crusts (from 12 to 16 ounces of bread)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 400°Spray a 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 13 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a bowl or plate. Set aside to cool.
- Add the shallots to the pancetta fat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the sweetpotatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweetpotatoes are al dente, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth, figs, thyme, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside 5 minutes to plump the figs.
- Transfer the sweetpotato-fig mixture to a very large bowl. Add the bread and 3/4 of the pancetta, stirring gently to evenly moisten. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining pancetta on top. Dot the top with the butter and cover with foil.
- Bake until heated through, 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned on top, 5 to 10 minutes.