Nick has perfected many recipes in our Rick Bayless cookbook collection, but this is one of my favorites. Not only do the bright flavors complement the sweet potatoes, but the dish makes a richly colored addition to the dinner table. For those of you who may not be familiar with Rick Bayless, I highly recommend his cookbooks to anyone interested in learning more about preparing Mexican cuisine. (As well as a visit to any of his Chicago restaurants.)
Chile Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Orange
Adapted from Rick Bayless
5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
6 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 C chicken or vegetable broth
3 lbs sweet potatoes, unpeeled
1 Tbl orange zest
1/2 C fresh orange juice
2 Tbl honey
1 tsp salt
butter for baking dish
To make the seasoning paste, roast the unpeeled garlic in a pan over medium heat until soft and blackening in spots, about 15 minutes. Cool and peel. While garlic is roasting, use the same pan to roast the chiles one or two at a time. Open them flat and press them into the pan with a spatula, letting the chiles crackle. Toast both sides. Transfer chiles to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Allow to rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine the oregano, cinnamon, black pepper and cloves, drained chiles, roasted garlic and broth in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, scraping down the sides as you work. Pass the mixture through a mesh strainer into a bowl. Stir in the orange zest, orange juice, honey and salt.
Preheat oven to 350F. Slice each of the sweet potatoes into four wedges, lengthwise. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and arrange the potatoes in a single layer. Spoon the sauce evenly over the potatoes. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until almost tender.
Raise the temperature to 425F, uncover the potatoes and baste with sauce. Bake until the sauce has thickened into a glaze, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.