In my thirty-some years of life there has only been one Thanksgiving where this dish wasn't on the table. Yes, it was traumatic. It has been and probably always will be one of my favorites on the holiday table. Mom adapted the original recipe to suit us kids by adding the mini-marshmallows. It was the only side of the casserole that my serving spoon touched. But my taste buds have changed and I have moved closer to the pecan topping;)
The recipe calls for sweet potatoes, but I like to use those Southern red yams. I find that their flavor and color are deeper. Instead of boiling, I like to roast the potatoes (or yams). This brings out the natural sugars. With that pronounced natural sweet flavor, I dial back on the sugar and butter in the recipe. I save those ingredients for dessert.
This recipe can be made in advance. I make it the day before (topping and all), cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Once the bird comes out of the oven, I slide in this dish along with the Cornbread Dressing (that can be made the day ahead as well). Bake until lightly browned and toasty.
Sweet Potato Casserole
4 good-sized (about 3 pounds) sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons (2-ounces) unsalted butter, melted
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups mini-marshmallows
3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet and bake until soft, about 45-60 minutes. (The potatoes will ooze some syrup.) Allow the potatoes to cool to the touch. Once cool, peel the potatoes and force the flesh through a ricer. (This removes the strings and makes for a fluffy and smooth texture.)
In a large bowl beat together the mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, milk, and salt using a hand-held mixer. Place the mixture in a 7- x 11-inch baking dish or 2-quart casserole.
Preheat the oven to 350º F.
For the Topping
Sprinkle the mini marshmallows over half of the sweet potatoes. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, flour, pecans, and salt. Sprinkle over the other half of the sweet potatoes.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the pecan topping is browned and the marshmallows are toasted. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from The Cotton Country Collection, by the Junior League of Monroe, Louisiana