Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: Your New Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish — Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes!

11/19/2015 at 10:55 AM ET

Alex Guarnaschelli
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.

I use the few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving auditioning side dishes to see if they are going to make the cut.

I always spend some time fiddling with various squashes and sweet potatoes because everyone loves them so much. I also love a side dish that can be made up to the very last step and then just heated and arranged on a patter.

Let’s face it, menu planning for Thanksgiving has to have a bit more strategic than just all the things we love to eat. I try to balance a few stovetop side dishes with a few that can be made in the oven. That way, I avoid a lot of side dish gridlock as the meal leaves the kitchen.

RELATED: The Absolute Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes

This sweet potato recipe is a great oven side dish. Make it in advance, arrange the stiffed potatoes on a baking sheet and simply heat through and serve.

The most important thing in the entire recipe is to fully cook the sweet potatoes before cutting them open and mixing the filling. An under baked potato has a starchy, tasteless way of ruining the party. I buy medium to small-sized potatoes because they are often more tender, sweeter and take less time to cook.


Alex Guarnaschelli’s Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves: 4-8

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. dry ginger
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and divided
2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Bake the potatoes: Place the sweet potatoes in the center of the oven and bake until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 1 hour to an hour and a half, depending on size of potatoes.

3. Make the topping: Prepare a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the almonds, flour, sugar, dry ginger and salt. Stir to blend. Work 5 tbsp. of butter in with your fingers. Sprinkle to topping onto the baking sheet to break it up into smaller clumps. Refrigerate.

4. Prepare the potatoes: When the potatoes are fully cooked, split them in half lengthwise and scoop out some of the flesh inside. Arrange the sweet potato halves on a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, combine the sweet potato with 3 tbsp. of butter, fresh ginger, red wine vinegar and orange zest. Season with salt. Spoon the filling back into each potato half and top liberally with the topping. Place the tray in the center of the oven and bake until the crust browns, 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

RELATED: Is It Safe to Stuff Your Turkey? Your Most Pressing Thanksgiving Questions, Answered

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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