Chef John's Candied Yams

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 3 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped pistachios, pecans, or walnuts for garnish
  • Directions

  • Step 1

    Stir salt into 2 quarts cold water in a large pot. Transfer sweet potato pieces to pot and place over high heat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are not quite tender but still cooked, 5 to 7 minutes. Use the tip of a knife to test for doneness. Drain.

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  • Step 2

    Place brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and pinch of salt in a skillet. Place over medium-high heat, stirring until glaze ingredients melt and start bubbling. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken up, 4 to 6 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Transfer drained sweet potatoes to skillet. Raise heat to high and cook and stir until potatoes are coated with glaze and very tender, and glaze has thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to serving dish; garnish with chopped nuts.

  • Chef's Note:

    If you’re using fine salt instead of kosher salt, use about 5 teaspoons fine saltinstead of 3 tablespoons of kosher salt.

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