My friend Kelly, an on-again, off-again vegetarian, just returned from a trip to Chicago. He'd decided that he would eat vegetarian the whole time he was in the Windy City. This sounds like it'd be a challenge in a town know for meaty deep-dish pizza, kielbasa sausage, and Chicago dogs, but Chicago, believe it or not, is a very vegetarian-friendly city with an abundance of options. Last time I was there in 2009, I had no problem finding great food. I even had one of the best meals I've ever eaten at Shawn McClain's stellar all-vegetarian Green Zebra.
I got a text from Kelly last week that read: Sweet potato piccata, best thing I've ever eaten...it brought a tear to my eye. Of course, I immediately pressed him for details. He and Michael were at The Publican, a temple of the pig that happens to have an incredibly innovative selection of vegetable dishes.
I made the dish as described with capers, lemon, and toasted pecans. The result was incredible. I wouldn't expect a potato dish to read as a main course, but this one did. It's simple enough to make for a weeknight meal, but special enough to serve at your upcoming holiday dinner.
Sweet Potato Piccata (inspired by The Publican)
2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled)
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (for dredging)
1 egg (plus 1 tablespoon water, beaten)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup white wine (like Pinot Grigio)
1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
1 large shallot (peeled, thinly sliced)
1 organic lemon (thinly sliced)
1/8 cup capers
5 sprigs fresh thyme (more for garnish)
1/2 cup pecans (roasted, salted)
Cut the sweet potato longways into 1/2-inch planks -- you should get 4 good slices per sweet potato. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (The water should be as salty as the sea.) Boil slices of sweet potato for 3 minutes and then remove them from the water and set aside on a plate to cool.
Season both sides of the sweet potato slices with salt and pepper. Dredge each slice in the flour, then the egg, then the flour again. Set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the canola oil. Working in batches of 4, you next fry both sides of the sweet potato until lightly golden. (This will likely take 4 to 5 minutes per side because the heat is moderately low in order to keep the butter from burning.) Remove the sweet potato slices and drain them on paper towels. Transfer the drained slices to a baking sheet and keep them warm in a low oven.
With the fat and bits of toasted flour still in the frying pan, add the wine, sugar, shallot, lemon, capers, and thyme. Allow sauce to reduce by 1/3. Arrange sweet potato slices in a shingle-like pattern on a serving plate, drizzle the sauce over the top, and place the lemon slices around the plate. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. (Serves 2 as a main course and 4 as a side dish.)
An excellent example of letting veggies really take center stage!
The Stylist Quo
Yum this looks awesome! I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy my favorite veggie.
This sounds like a great idea, especially with sweet potatoes appearing all around me.
made this last night, with sake in place of regular white wine - so, SO delicious! i used a tbsp of red mill egg replacer mixed with 4 tbsp of warm water in place of the egg, to veganize it.
Just finished eating this, so so good! Thanks for a great recipe!
Another recipe that the method is important too. I used the method to make a variation on this. I got Yams instead of Sweet Potatos. Too sweet for the picatta version so I made a mexican sauce and it worked beautifully too.
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