Food & Drink

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Bacon Syrup

Serves 4-6

A seasonal recipe from Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina.

Photo: Squire Fox

The name of Howard’s restaurant refers to the field-fresh ingredients dominating the kitchen. But it could just as easily nod to Howard herself, who grew up on a farm in nearby Deep Run. In this sweet-and-salty hybrid, she takes inspiration from both the syrupy yams of her childhood and the smash-fried plantains that she discovered as a chef in New York City.


  • Candied Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Bacon Syrup

    • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds

    • Canola oil for frying

    • Salt

    • Pecan Bacon Syrup (recipe below)

  • Pecan Bacon Syrup

    • 2 cups bacon, cut into small dice

    • 2 cups pecans, chopped

    • 2/3 cup sliced scallions (white part primarily), plus more for garnish

    • 2/3 cup lemon juice

    • 1/4 cup molasses

    • 2 1/3 cups maple syrup

    • 1/4 tsp. chile flakes

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    • 2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. butter


  1. In a large pot, boil sweet potatoes until just tender. Allow slices to cool completely. Then press them between 2 pieces of parchment paper or foil, working in batches, so the slices flatten slightly and the edges spread. This can be done up to 2 days ahead.

  2. To finish, fill a deep skillet with an inch of canola oil and heat until shimmering. Fry sweet potatoes for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned and crispy.

  3. Drain on paper towels, and season generously with salt.

  4. To serve:

    Stack sweet potatoes, top with syrup, and garnish with sliced scallions.

  5. For the Pecan Bacon Syrup:

    Heat skillet over medium and render bacon until almost crispy.

  6. Add pecans and scallions, and toast for 1 minute.

  7. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer until mixture has reduced by about one-third. Whisk in butter just before serving.

Recipe from chef Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina