Michael Symon On Sweet Potatoes Being Your Thanksgiving Centerpiece


While turkeys have dominated Thanksgiving dinner tables for centuries, the upward trend of plant-based food options gives way for main courses that don’t necessarily come from a farm.

We talked to Chef Michael Symon thanks to Lipton’s Bright Bite Recipes, and asked what vegetarian centerpiece can formidably replace the turkey from your Thanksgiving dinner. His reply was that the versatility of a sweet potato makes it the best option.

“I still think it’s hard to beat the sweet potato,” Symon said. “You can do a bunch of different things with it. It can definitively sync as the centerpiece with a lot of other things around it.”

Now, if you’re familiar with the American Iron Chef and host of The Chew, you know he’s big on BBQ and burgers, so we’re not dealing with someone who’s pushing a vegan agenda, or trying to convince you to become vegetarian. Aside from being a proven chef who can adapt to any cooking style, a big reason he’s had an interest in plant-based options is that his wife Liz Shanahan is vegan. So you better believe he whips up an amazing Thanksgiving meal that she’ll love, too.

“I have to have a lot of vegetable options on the table because of Liz,” Symon said about his Thanksgiving meal at home. “This year I’m planning on doing sweet potatoes that I boil first, then slice into disks, then pan fry until they’re super crispy.”

So one of the main goodies on the chef’s table will be those Crispy Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage.

And if that’s something you think you’d like to add to your dinner table, here’s his recipe, courtesy of The Chew:

3-4 sweet potatoes (2 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sage leaves (roughly torn, divided)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Pure maple syrup
Sour cream

  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook partially covered until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool completely. Slice the potatoes into 1-inch thick slices and set aside.
  2. Preheat a large cast iron skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes in an even layer and smash down with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Flip the potatoes and continue to brown on the other side, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining potatoes.
  3. After cooking all of the potatoes, add the butter and allow to cook until light brown and nutty, about 4 minutes. Add sage leaves during the last 30 seconds of cooking. Drizzle the butter sauce over the potatoes and serve with maple syrup and sour cream.
  4. Tip: Be sure that the potatoes are very dry before browning in the cast iron skillet to ensure that a deep golden crust forms.

If you still don’t believe that there are many uses for sweet potato aside from pie, you can work with recipes for things like sweet potato fettuccine, scalloped sweet potato stacks, and even some sweet potato gratin.


If you’re like me and are tired of turkey, sweet potato seems to be a suitable alternate route, according to Michael Symon, and I totally believe it.

By Isai Rocha

Isai is the self-proclaimed Kanye West of burrito eating. He has a hard time trusting vegans, ranch dressing and especially vegan ranch dressing.

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