Photograph by Iain Bagwell
Darryl Evans’s career took shape in the era when fusion was hot, mixing Southern cooking with global flavors in dishes such as whole, sizzling Asian-style catfish or ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and Georgia caviar. The Columbus native helmed the kitchens of high-profile restaurants like Tom Catherall’s 1990s trendsetter Azalea; Midtown’s Spice; and Anthony’s, in a refurbished antebellum Buckhead mansion. Evans re-creates a dish popular during his tenure at Anthony’s, which combines pureed sweet potatoes and a crust of macaroni and cheese into a layered soufflé.
Sweet potato layer:
5 medium sweet potatoes
1–2 cups dark brown sugar
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Macaroni and cheese layer:
6 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 minced fresh garlic cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 large eggs
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar, divided
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack, divided
1. Prepare the sweet potato layer: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Rinse sweet potatoes, prick in several places with a fork, and place on a baking sheet and roast in oven about 45 minutes, until very tender. Peel skin off sweet potatoes, then place potatoes in a bowl and mash with a potato masher.
3. Add brown sugar (more or less, depending on desired sweetness), butter, and flour, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in cinnamon and allspice.
4. Next, whisk in eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla, then season to taste with salt. Set aside.
5. Prepare macaroni and cheese layer: Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add dry macaroni and cook until al dente; drain and transfer to a large bowl.
6. While pasta is cooking, in a large pot melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour; whisk 3 to 5 minutes until smooth. Whisk in garlic, salt, and white pepper. Stir in milk, cream, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and red wine vinegar. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
7. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Add about ½ cup of the white sauce to temper the eggs and whisk until smooth. Add egg mixture to pot and beat until smooth. Whisk in 2 cups of the grated cheddar and 1 cup of the grated Jack. Pour over the cooked macaroni and stir.
8. To assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 8-inch spring-loaded cheesecake pans (or comparably sized casserole dishes) with nonstick cooking spray on sides and bottom, then place sweet potato mixture into bottoms of pans and shake down to ensure no air pockets. Spread macaroni and cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle rest of cheese on top of soufflé and place on sheet pans, then add 2 cups of water to bottom of sheet pans.
9. Place in oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until macaroni is set. Cool slightly, then remove sides of pan (if using springform) and serve.
Makes 12 generous servings.
This recipe originally appeared in our November 2012 issue.