Mole poblano is a Mexican sauce that includes chile peppers, spices, herbs, and nuts among a long list of ingredients. Chocolate features prominently in the mix, but it rounds out the flavor rather than lending a dessert-like quality. This recipe captures the essence of mole, relying on a balance of strong ingredients that come together to lend a savory deliciousness to roasted sweet potatoes.
When you read through the ingredients below, you may wonder what pairs well with a side dish that contains cocoa powder, ancho chile, and peanuts. Once the potatoes spend time in the oven, the flavors meld and become more complex. As with mole poblano, they go well with chicken, turkey and other meats. Alternately they lend a richness to a vegetarian meal.
Mexican Sweet Potatoes
3 pounds sweet potatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon chipotles in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely crushed peanuts
Chopped scallions or scallion aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped scallion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper to taste
Aioli is a delicious accompaniment to roasted potatoes. Here it’s a way to introduce another flavor into the mole-inspired mix. As a counterpart to the onions in a traditional mole poblano, scallions provide a mellower flavor that pairs well with sweet potatoes.
Since it takes about an hour in the refrigerator for the flavors of the aioli to meld, make this part first if you plan to serve it. Combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper using a blender or stick blender. Refrigerate the aioli while you work on the potatoes. If you prefer to serve the potatoes without a drizzle of aioli, chopped scallions are another option for a finishing touch.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Whisk the olive oil, brown sugar, cocoa powder, chipotles in adobo sauce, oregano, ancho chile powder, salt, garlic, and black pepper until well-combined. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil mixture in a large bowl until they are entirely coated. Add the peanuts and toss again to distribute evenly.
Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning the potatoes once during cooking. Remove from the oven when they are tender and browned with crispy edges. Top with a drizzle of scallion aioli or chopped scallions.
With Thanksgiving coming up soon, these potatoes are worthy of a spot on a nontraditional menu. They also are a great way to change up your leftovers. When the candied yams run out, you might be in the mood for some Mexican inspired side dishes.