We were catching up on some old episodes of Iron Chef recently, and saw guest chef and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford do something unusual with her sweet potatoes. Just before putting them in the oven to roast, she threw a handful of whole spices onto the tray. How interesting!
The whole spices toast in heat of the oven, releasing their aromas and infusing the potatoes with delicate flavors. Chef Comerford used mainly star anise, cloves, and cinnamon with her sweet potatoes, from what we could see. For a more savory kick, we wonder if cumin seeds, peppercorns, and fennel seed might also work.
The spice flavors in the roasted potatoes would end up being very subtle. You definitely wouldn't want to mask them with a heavy sauce or jumble the potatoes with a lot of other ingredients. Chef Comerford used her potatoes to make a sweet potato souffle, which we think is an excellent idea! Simply serving the roasted pieces as-is or lightly mashed also sounds pretty good to us.
We could also use this trick when roasting squash or even regular potatoes. We'll definitely be giving this a try in the next few weeks, for sure.
Have you ever done this?