Is there nothing more satisfying than cheesy potatoes? Sisha Ortuzar of ‘wichcraft, which recently launched a full dinner menu, shakes up this comfort-food staple by changing the cheese and the potato. And who should know comfort food better than the co-founder of Tom Colicchio’s sandwich brainchild?
“Sweet potato is one of my favorite fall flavors, but it can be very one-note and sometimes the sweetness can be overwhelming,” says Ortuzar. “By pairing it with the goat cheese and olives, the flavor of the sweet potato really shines without getting tiresome. Any of the ingredients by themselves can be too strong but when combined, they work really well in creating a balanced and slightly unusual dish.”
Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Gratin with Black Olives
2 lbs sweet potatoes
3 oz butter, unsalted
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup creamy fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup Nicoise olives, pitted
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 basil leaves, finally chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
In an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, bake the potatoes until they are completely cooked and soft on the inside, about 35-45 minutes, depending on their size. Once they are cool to the touch, scoop out the potato and discard the skins.
In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, brown the butter until it starts turning a hazelnut color and has a nutty fragrance. Add the chopped shallots and allow to cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to burn the butter. Pour the butter onto the sweet potato and mix. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
In an oven preheated to 450 degrees F, place the pitted olives on a small baking sheet and “roast” them until they are hard and brittle, about 20-25 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Once the olives are cool, chop them into small pieces, and mix them with the olive oil and the basil. This could be done well in advance.
Place the sweet potato mix in a baking dish, so that it’s about 1 inch thick. Spread the creamy goat cheese over the top, covering most of the potatoes but leaving the edges uncovered. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese and potatoes start to brown in some spots. This gratin won’t brown like a traditional potato gratin, the colors of the sweet potatoes and the goat cheese will still be very present. Spoon the olives and basil over the cheese, and serve.