Some years ago, Mississippi’s Jill Conner Browne wrote a series of hilarious books based on her “Sweet Potato Queen” stories and philosophies of Southern culture. Fortunately, she also offered a recipe for said-named casserole, which I’ve expropriated and adapted through the years because my daughter likes it so much.
It’s now a staple of our Thanksgiving feast and equally delicious leftovers. That’s why I usually make two casseroles – one for the midday meal and another for later.
You will love it, and it couldn’t be much easier. It’s a nice, fluffy, modern “company” side dish that I think is far superior to grandma’s marshmallow-topped version. You will appreciate it even more, if you read Jill’s books.
Header image via louisianasweetpotatoes.wordpress.com and used in accordance with the Creative Commons user agreement.
SWEET POTATO QUEEN CASSEROLE
(With thanks to author Jill Conner Browne, the real Sweet Potato Queen)
- Mixer (stand type is better unless you have an eager assistant)
- chopping board and knife
- paring knife
- rubber spatula
- measuring equipment
- baking sheet
- parchment paper
- 9×13” casserole dish
- aluminum foil
- cooking spray
- cereal bowl
- mixing spoon
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 4-5 large sweet potatoes (I highly recommend storing sweet potatoes in refrigerator 1-2 weeks, which brings out their sweetness.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 stick butter or margarine
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
LET’S GET STARTED
Preheat oven to 400. Rinse sweet potatoes and remove exterior strings. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, place potatoes evenly onto sheet.
Poke 4-5 holes in the tops of each. Bake 1 hour. (To be sure they are done, poke a fork into the center. If it hits solid, it needs to cook another 10-15 minutes. If the center is soft, you’re done.)
Remove done potatoes from the oven, Put a sheet of foil over them to create some steam, which will make them easier to peel. Allow them to rest 10-15 minutes or longer until they are cool enough to handle. Cut ends off each potato, slide your paring knife under the skin and peel it back. If you still have a “paper-like” skin underside, dark cooked places, remaining potato eyes or “stringy” exterior flesh (especially near the ends), use your paring knife to remove lightly.
Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds, put them into your mixing bowl. About half way filled, add a stick of butter. Then top with the rest of your cooked potatoes. On slow speed, start your mixer using the beater blade. When it’s broken up the potatoes, add cinnamon and continue to mix for smoother mixture.
In a glass measuring cup, add salt, milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat with a fork to incorporate. Pour into potato mixture and slowly increase mixing speed to whip into a lighter, smoother mixture, scraping once with rubber spatula. Mixing may take 10-15 minutes.
When sufficiently smooth texture is accomplished (don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly smooth), pour into the casserole dish and spread evenly with rubber spatula.
For topping, add flour and chopped nuts into cereal bowl and mix until nuts are coated.
Add brown sugar and mix thoroughly, then melted butter and mix until well incorporated.
With a tablespoon, drop dollops of sugar-nut mixture onto the casserole top. I start in the middle, go to the corners and then add more dollops into the open areas. Don’t worry that your topping doesn’t cover everything. When baked, it’s going to melt all over the place.
Tear off a foil sheet to cover. Spray foil underside lightly with cooking spray so foil won’t stick to topping. Attach foil over the casserole and secure tightly. (At this stage, you can freeze this and thaw a day or so before you want to bake it.) Bake 350 for 30-45 minutes, remove foil for another 15 minutes. Cooking time depends on how cold the casserole is when you put it into the oven.
Come back to NewinNOLA.com every week for “Southfacin’ Cook,” where Patsy explains the basics to Southern cooking and eating. Contact her with suggestions, questions or requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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