Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Thanksgiving Table: Aunt Lynn's Sweet Potato Casserole

In keeping with my last post, here is another incredibly tasty Thanksgiving side dish.  This sweet potato casserole has been on the holiday table in my family for as long as I can remember.  My Aunt Lynn always makes it, and when I got married, she gave the recipe to me.  Now, no matter where I am at Thanksgiving, I try to make this casserole.  The table is just not complete without it.  It is a pretty traditional sweet potato casserole, but isn't tradition what Thanksgiving is all about?

Like other sides at Thanksgiving, many of the parts of this dish can be made ahead.  You can roast the sweet potatoes a day or so before and chop the nuts ahead of time.  At that point, the most time consuming part of this is the topping, and that only takes a matter of minutes to whip up. 

I will warn you that this is sweet, not too sweet, but sweet enough that a good sized spoonful will do you.  It is a side dish but could almost double as dessert.  You could cut some of the sugar if you wanted to make it less caloric and sweet, but what the heck, it's Thanksgiving.  I say, go all out! 

As you have noticed by now, this is a casserole with a streusel-like topping, not marshmallows.  Marshmallows, in my personal opinion, have no place on the Thanksgiving table and especially not on top of sweet potatoes.  No offense to anyone, but a nut topping is way to go.  A crackly, crunchy crust topping creamy, dreamy sweet potatoes. What could be better?

Aunt Lynn's Sweet Potato Casserole 
serves 6-8

5 medium or 3 large sweet potatoes, roasted until tender
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (any kind is fine- I use 2%)
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, cut in small cubes
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop the flesh out of the roasted sweet potatoes.  Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes in a large bowl.  Add the remaining filling ingredients and whisk to combine until the filling is fairly smooth.  Pour the filling into a 2 quart baking dish (you can also use a 9 x 13 for a greater ratio of topping to filling). 

In a medium bowl, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the nuts.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.  Bake for 30-35 minutes*. 

*Sometimes to get a slightly darker topping, I place the dish under the broiler for a minute or two.  If you do this, watch it very closely because it will burn easily. 

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