Andrew Zimmern's Secret To Perfect Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes - Exclusive

It's never too early to start prepping your Thanksgiving meal — and expert tips can be a great help. Tasting Table spoke with Andrew Zimmern at this year's New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) to learn about his culinary plans for the holiday season — and to stock up on some of his sought-after cooking recommendations.

While culinary innovation is usually at the top of Zimmern's mind, his philosophy for Thanksgiving is a bit more traditional. "I adore cooking the classics. [Thanksgiving] is the one day of the year where I get to do that." But there is one dish that Zimmern likes to cook a little differently: Sweet potatoes, which he roasts. "I put my spin onto my favorite thing, and I love it because there's always someone who's never had it [this way] before ... I recommend people overcook them, really get a char on that skin and get the moisture out of them so they get that smoky flavor."

Andrew Zimmern's roasted sweet potatoes

To enhance your roasted sweet potatoes even further, Zimmern recommends a simple, but delicious seasoning preparation. After you roast the sweet potatoes, cooking them until the skins are charred, Zimmern suggests that you season them "with goat butter and smoked brown sugar ... That's it and it is the most delicious thing in the whole world." Smoking the brown sugar contributes to the overall smokiness of the dish, which helps to deepen the flavor while brightening it with sweetness. 

The key to a successful Thanksgiving meal is ensuring that the table has a nice distribution of flavor. Cooking your sweet potatoes long enough so that they embody a rich smokiness while cutting them with sugar, gives you that variety all in a single dish. While sweet potatoes are generally featured as a side dish, they can also make an appearance toward the end of the meal in the form of sweet potato pie, which is beloved in the Southern region of the United States. Fortunately, you don't have to choose between roasted sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie, as there's always room on the table for both.