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Blog

a place at the table

Andrea

Across the country cookbooks and magazines have been poured through, pages dog-eared and marked with post-it notes of all colors as folks finalize their Thanksgiving menus.  Lists are made, non-perishable foods have been purchased and trips to the grocery for fresh veggies and dairy products have been scheduled.  Sweet potatoes are tucked away in dark pantries, waiting for hands to scrub, peel and cube them to boil, roast, mash or bake on Thursday.



Growing up, sweet potatoes were never an exciting part of our Thanksgiving menu.  They made the occasional appearance and never left much of an impression on me.  Brian and I have hosted Thanksgiving twice now since being married, and only once have they made it on our table after a guest offered to bring them with her to dinner.  Its not that I have anything against the orange-fleshed tuber, in fact I purchase them throughout the year to eat baked and topped with steamed broccoli, kernels of plump corn and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.  Its just that, traditionally, I enjoy them in savory form rather than sweetened as they are in most Thanksgiving recipes.



Not wanting to give up just yet, I decided to give sweet potatoes a try again this year.  Originally I planned to find a savory recipe to test, but elected instead to give a sweet recipe another shot; to stick with tradition for at least one more year before abandoning the concept entirely.  My momma sent me a classic version that she insisted I had liked in the past, one that she assured me was much more enjoyable than the soupy, marshmallow-topped dishes I described from my own memory.



The potatoes are boiled, mashed, whipped and sweetened, then smothered with a crumbly streusel-like topping before being baked until golden brown.  The result is neither soupy nor pasty, is in fact pleasantly fluffy with the contrasting crunch of sugared pecans.  It is quite sweet, so much so that I would probably categorize it as a dessert rather than a side, although my momma tells me that when paired with other savory bites on a Thanksgiving plate it is altogether balanced.  No matter when it is served, this casserole deserves a place at the table.


Sweet Potato Casserole


Ingredients

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (4 large or one 29-oz can)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), melted

  • 1/2 cup flour

  • 1 cup pecans, chopped


Method

  1. If using raw sweet potatoes, peel them as best you can and chop them into small chunks.  Boil for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender but not falling apart.  Mash until nearly smooth.

  2. Mix in eggs, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt.  Add cream slowly and blend until fluffy (use whisk attachment if using a stand mixer), stopping before potatoes become soupy.

  3. Spoon sweet potato mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Preheat oven to 350*.

  4. Mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl.  Spread over sweet potato mixture.

  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until topping is deep golden brown.



A very Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!


2009 has been a tough year for many.  Even though we've hit speed bump after speed bump, I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

  • Our family and very close friends, all of whom are so incredibly supportive of Brian and I.

  • My employers, for pushing through and doing all they can in a difficult time.

  • Brian, my love, who always knows how to make me smile when things get tough.


What, or who, are you thankful for this year?