2 Asian Red Shallots – thinly sliced (substitute with 1/8 of a medium red onion if unavailable)
2 Garlic cloves – minced
1 Bird’s Eye Red Chili (optional – or use any other small hot red chili) – finely chopped
2.5 TBLS Unsalted Butter
½ TSP Smoked Paprika (I used a hot one, but sweet smoked paprika is fine too if you prefer to make this milder)
¾ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper
½ – ¾ TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
1 cup freshly grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup freshly grated Mozzarella Cheese
1 Spring Onion / Scallion (green parts only) – chopped
Prep: Grease an 8-inch square ovenproof glass dish or pan with unsalted butter or a bit of olive oil. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
Cook the sweet potatoes: Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a medium sized pot and fill with water until the potatoes are covered. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and boil for 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain well and transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Use a potato masher to mash until smooth.
Cook the bacon: While the potatoes are cooking, cut the bacon into 1/2-inch wide strips. Transfer to a skillet and cook over medium-high heat until crisp and cooked through. Then transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Sauté shallot, garlic, and chili: Discard all but ½ tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan and heat it over medium heat. Add the sliced shallot, garlic, and red chili and sauté for a minute until fragrant and the shallot has slightly softened. Then transfer to the bowl with the mashed sweet potatoes.
Make the spicy sweet potato mash: Add the unsalted butter, remaining ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, smoked paprika, freshly cracked black pepper, and ground cayenne to the bowl with the sweet potatoes mash. Mix well to combine, then fold in 2/3 of the crispy bacon pieces. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Assemble: Spread half of the spicy sweet potato and bacon mixture in the prepared pan. Then sprinkle half of the freshly grated cheddar cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese evenly on top. Repeat with the remaining spicy sweet potato mash and bacon mixture and cheeses.
Bake: Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is bubbly.
To Serve: Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then garnish with the chopped spring onion and remaining bacon pieces. Serve immediately!
Cook’s Tips and FAQS
Use good quality thick cut bacon for best flavor and texture.
Use freshly grated cheese. Buy a block and grate it at home. It’ll melt more evenly and taste better than the pre-shredded cheese sold in bags. Plus, it won’t have any of the anti-caking agents and preservatives that the pre-shredded cheeses do.
Can I make this ahead? Sure! You can prep and assemble the dish all the way as per the instructions. Then cover with foil and refrigerate up to 3 days before baking. When you’re ready to bake, take the dish out of the fridge 30-60 minutes ahead of when you plan to bake it. Then bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
How long will the loaded sweet potato casserole keep? It’ll keep for 3 days in a sealed airtight container. Reheat in the microwave on high for 40-60 seconds, or until hot throughout.