When South Africans get together in summer, it almost always results in a braai. Most of us have a very particular idea of what the perfect braai is. To some of us, it involves a lavish sheep on a spit. To others; a tjop and a dop. But how much thought do we give the side dishes? At most braais you’re likely to find some version of potato bake, potato salad or potato chips, but I’ve always loved mixing things up with sweet potato at a braai. This Hasselback recipe is one of my ultimate go-tos. You can “Hasselback” anything from potatoes to butternut and beetroot. It’s so simple but just adds that extra bit of flair.
What I love about the Hasselback technique is its simplicity. By cutting thin, evenly spaced slices into a potato (or any root vegetable for that matter), the infused oils seep into the accordion-like grooves, making the skin crispy and the inside, smooth and creamy.
The combination of thyme, butter and olive oil gives these sweet potatoes a lovely savoury flavour that goes so well with red meat. And to give them that glorious sunkissed glow, I can’t resist brushing them with the oils that have oozed out onto the bottom of the pan.
8 sweet potatoes
80 g (85 ml) butter
80 ml olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
ground salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C and wash the sweet potatoes.
Make vertical slits, about 2 mm apart, three-quarters of the way down into each sweet potato, all the way along.
Place the sweet potatoes on a roasting tray. Place some butter on each sweet potato and drizzle with oil. Place the thyme sprigs on top.
Season with salt and pepper and place the dish in the oven.
Roast for 1 hour or longer depending on the size of your sweet potatoes. They’re ready when the inside is soft.