Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

I’m dying to know – are you a sweet potato casserole lover or not? (Asking from the avenue of whether you look forward to it at the Thanksgiving table or whether you could live without and be happy.)

My husband and I have not always been sweet potato casserole lovers, I have to admit, but I’m realizing as my taste buds mature that I actually do enjoy just a bit of the orange, sweet goodness to compliment the rest of Thanksgiving dinner.

I adore this particular sweet potato casserole and let me tell you why (I know you are sitting at the edge of your seat wanting to know) – it’s simple, for one. But secondly, it has such wonderfully complimentary flavors that I found myself scooping just another little helping onto my plate, and then another teensy tiny one, and then another itty bitty one, and then…well, you get the picture.

I basically ate the whole thing single-handedly. A touch of orange zest and fresh orange juice really kick this sweet potato casserole up a notch and give it a bit of light freshness that is missing from so many other recipes, in my opinion.

Additionally, the spices are so perfectly balanced with a hint of cinnamon and just a bare touch of cayenne to offset the sweetness. The casserole itself is pureed until it is silky smooth and undeniably delicious – decadent without being overly so.

But please don’t be like me…and let the casserole broil properly until the sugar really is all cooked and golden on top (uh, my drastic problem with impatience impeded me from allowing that to happen but it was still mighty tasty).

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting excited for Thanksgiving! I have some other great Thanksgiving recipes to share in the next week or so along with a helpful Thanksgiving collage, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, because if you know me, you know I love a good collage.

Sweet Potato Casserole

One Year Ago: Lasagna Soup
Two Years Ago: Baked Brown Spanish Rice
Three Years Ago: Thanksgiving Dinner 101: The Rolls

Sweet Potato Casserole

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Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest plus 2 tablespoons orange juice (from 1 orange)
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. F. Mix 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the orange zest together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined (reserve the other 1/2 teaspoon orange zest for later). Set aside.
  2. Lay out 4 pieces of aluminum foil, each about 18 inches in length. Take two of the sheets and lay them perpendicular to each other (so it forms a thick cross) and do the same with the other two sheets of foil. Divide the sweet potatoes in half and put one half on one set of foil and the remaining potatoes on the other set of foil. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon sugar over all the potatoes in both packets. Fold the opposite edges of the foil toward each other and crimp the edges to seal tightly. Place the packets inside a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and preheat the broiler.
  3. Carefully open one end from each pouch, careful to avoid escaping steam, and pour the potatoes and any remaining liquid into a blender or food processor. Add the butter, cream, orange juice, salt, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, pepper and cayenne. Process until the mixture is completely smooth. Transfer the potatoes to a 2- or 3-quart baking dish (that is broiler safe) and sprinkle evenly with the reserved brown sugar/zest mixture. Broil the sweet potatoes until the topping is lightly browned and bubbly, 2 to 4 minute. Serve warm.

Notes:

For those inquiring minds that want to know if this can be made ahead – I don’t know! I haven’t tried it, but I’m guessing you could make it and place it in the baking dish and refrigerate it covered (reserving the sugar/zest topping to use later). Then top the casserole with the sugar/zest topping before you want to bake it and instead of broiling, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or so to heat through, then pop it under the broiler to take care of the yummy topping.

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Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2012