Y’all, today I want to talk to you about something very near and dear to my heart. Actually, it’s my belief that this is something that’s very near and dear to the hearts of a lot of Americans. Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Casserole.
However, In the words of the very famous and also very talented rapper of the bygone 1990s era, The Digital Underground:
Allright Stop Whatcha Doin
Cause I’m about to Ruin
The Image and the Style that you’re used to
We’ll have a full discussion sometime in the near future of how I know all of the lyrics to that song and also just how very much I love ridiculously cheesy and terrible 1990s rap music. (I’m looking at you, Montell Jordan)
But in the meantime……
Yes, we’re going to talk about Sweet Potato Casserole. But, yes, I also plan to ruin the image you have in your mind of the sad, tired, outdated sweet potato casserole of Thanksgiving Past. And listen, I know I’m going to catch a lot of flack from Thanksgiving traditionalists on this one. I get it, I really do. I am as much a traditionalist as the next person. I love to be healthy and eat real foods but if you dare even touch my holiday green bean casserole chock full of condensed soup and French Fried Onions I will cut you. (seriously) So I understand. But traditionalists, just hear me out.
What if I told you that there was a way to still have your Grandma Jeans marshmallow smothered sweet potato casserole but have it made with real food? What if I told you that you still get to experience that “tastes like a dessert but somehow is a side dish” flavor but without sweet potatoes from a can? (let’s just digest that again. Sweet. Potatoes. From. A. Can. How does that even happen?) And then, bonus, what if I told you that it’s so easy to make that even your crazy Uncle Joe whose traditional holiday meal contribution is a bottle of Jack and some jordan almonds could throw it together?
Would you think I was lying?
Well, I’m not.
Despite being topped with marshmallows (and don’t you dare knock that until you try it. It’s amazing), this casserole is a lightened up, real food version of a traditionally sugary and nutritionally vacant recipe. Real sweet potatoes are mixed with half and half, vanilla and eggs to create a light, airy souffle-like texture that gets better the longer it sits (great for the marathon that is known as Thanksgiving eating). The topping, albeit, definitely sweet and not necessarily “real” is a much lighter version than Grandmas, with pecans adding in a nice crunchy counterpart to the smooth texture of the potatoes.
Friends, this recipe is hands down my most requested family recipe of all time. It’s gotten to be such a thing that I now have to double the recipe and make two batches so that Uncle Jimmy and Uncle Jerry don’t go to fistacuffs over the last spoonful. My kids, normally suspicious of all foods that are orange, love this recipe. And not just because it has marshmallows, neither. Though I’m sure that doesn’t hurt. It’s truly delicious. And the beauty of this recipe is that it can be made up to two days in advance. This greatly reduces my stress-level on Thanksgiving morning and allows me to do other much more productive things. Like stand watch with a fire extinguisher as Jeff drops multiple turkeys into vats of boiling peanut oil.**
So no matter how traditional you like your holidays to be, no matter how deeply in love with canned vegetables and BPA you are, I urge you to try this recipe. You’ll be the biggest hit of your Thanksgiving get together this year. If you don’t count Uncle Joe…..because when it comes to family gatherings we all know that sometimes a bottle of Jack is hard to beat.
**Jeff has asked me to clarify that he has never set anything on fire while frying turkeys. Yet I still stand with a fire extinguisher in hand. Because…just in case….
Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine. Original Recipe can be found here.
Sweet Potato Casserole
- For the Potatoes:
- 2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup half and half
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- Cooking Spray
- For the Topping:
- 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 375
- Step 2 To prepare potatoes, place them in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Cool Slightly.
- Step 3 Place potatoes in bowl of a large stand mixer (or just large bowl if you’re hand mixing). Add half and half, 3/4 sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs. Beat well. The mixture will be thin. Pour into a 9X13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
- Step 4 To prepare topping, sprinkle mini marshmallows over top of the casserole. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with a knife. COmbine flour, 1/4 sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or your hands) until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.