It is Thanksgiving Week, Day 4! Time for some potatoes, because what is Thanksgiving without at least two types of potatoes. I love traditional mashed potatoes (smothered in gravy of course) but since that recipe is fairly basic, I decided to make sweet potatoes. There are so many ways to prepare sweet potatoes, but I went for a candied sweet potato casserole topped with glazed pecans! You could top this one with marshmallows instead if you are so inclined, but TheBetterHalf is not a marshmallow fan. He actually said “It’s Thanksgiving, not summer camp.” So that’s that.
Growing up, we actually didn’t have sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving. I guess there is only so much room on the table, so something had to be cut. But I remember having it at my aunt’s house when I celebrated Thanksgiving with them one year, and I immediately fell in love! I mean, what is not to love about sweet potatoes mixed with butter and brown sugar? My aunt topped hers with crushed gingersnaps, which was delicious. I will have to get that recipe from her to make next year.
I think I love this recipe so much because it kind of tastes like a dessert! But don’t worry, TheBetterHalf assured me that it’s a healthy dish because it’s made with brown sugar and not white sugar. His logic is if brown rice is healthier than white rice and brown bread is healthier than white bread, surely brown sugar must be healthier than white sugar. He has the best food rules! I’m totally going to agree with that one.
This recipe uses fresh sweet potatoes – canned ones freak me out, so none of that on Chez CateyLou! The sweet potatoes are slowly cooked with brown sugar and butter. Most of them break down into a soft, mashed consistency, but a few stay in solid pieces which I really like. It gives some texture to the casserole. The potatoes are great on their own, but the pecan topping really takes it to the next level. They are sweet and nutty, and have a tiny hint of spice. The flavor is amazing and they add a nice crunch to the dish.
So this is the last savory dish of my Thanksgiving week. I hope you enjoyed them. Tomorrow we have actual dessert to look forward to! What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?
Candied Sweet Potato Casserole
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen
for the Sweet Potatoes:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 lbs (about 8 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup water
for the Pecan Topping:
2 cups pecan halves
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
⅛ tsp table salt
pinch cayenne pepper
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, salt, pepper and water, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender, 45 – 60 minutes.
Once the potatoes are tender, remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer and continue to cook until the sauce has reduced to a glaze, 7 – 10 minutes.
Make the topping while the sauce is reducing. Mix all the topping ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spoon the potatoes into a 13”x9” baking dish and spread them evenly. Pour the topping on top of the potatoes. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until the pecans are crisp.