Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sweet Potato Casserole Two Ways for the Holidays

This year I made sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving. Several people have asked for the recipe so here you go.

First, the basic recipe is this one from my Aunt Nell who lived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia near Wallops Island. This is super southern and super sweet, I consider it a dessert.

Aunt Nell's Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups sweet potatoes (probably canned)
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Mix first five ingredients. Put in a 4-5 qt. casserole dish.
Mix sugar flour and pecans with melted butter, pour over casserole.
Bake at 350F 45 minutes to an hour.
I would cover with foil then remove for last 10 minutes.

This is not the recipe I made but the idea is the same.

My version is inspired by baby food. My 2 year old likes to eat mashed combinations of vegetables including sweet potato, rutabaga, butternut squash, parsnips, etc. So I made my casserole filling and toddler food at the same time!

The baby's portion gets removed from the mixer before all the spices go in or the bourbon goes on the pecans.

All the measurements are to taste because when using fresh vegetables its going to come out a little different every time. This amounts should do about a 9x13 casserole dish with about an inch of filling, maybe a bit more.

Sean's Root Vegetable Casserole with Bourbon Pecan Topping
For the filling
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, diced
1 large rutabaga, peeled and diced
6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar, the darker the better
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 sticks of butter, softened
Note: All these spices I did to taste, measurements are a best guess to show proportions
2 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground all spice

Preheat oven to 200F.

Cook all the vegetables on a low boil until very soft, falling apart when a fork goes in. They can be stringy if you under cook. Rutabaga takes the longest, then potato, then squash so either add them at different times or dice them at different sized.

Drain and pour cooked vegetables into the casserole dish, sprinkle salt all over. Put casserole into the over for about 30 minutes to help dry everything out. The more you can spread out the vegetables the better.

I don't know how to explain what a 'dry' looks like but they shouldn't be roasting in there. When they are dry you can add more butter so it tastes better :)

Remove vegetables, crank over to 375F.

Put vegetables into your mixer with two sticks of butter, sugar, vanilla, and start mixing. Add the egg, beat until smooth. Add your spices and salt to taste, more sugar is desired.

Grease your casserole dish with butter and add your filling. After making the topping, add it to the dish, cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, cook another 10 and your done.

Bourbon Pecan topping
1 pound pecans coarsely chopped. I just hit the unopened bag with a rolling pin a few times.
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick butter
tsp flout
little nutmeg
1/2 cup bourbon, Evan Williams is a good choice because its cheap but still decent quality

In a sauce pan on medium low, melt the butter, add the sugar and pecans, keep stirring until just bubbling. Add the bourbon, might want to kill the flame first so you don't flambe it, or flambe it might be better ;) Watc h your eyebrows. Let that reduce by half and stir in the flour and a bit of nutmeg.

Pour it over the casserole and bake it.

I did this once with cashews instead of pecans and it tasted fine but the pecans are a better texture.