This is what I ended up putting together as our sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving. One word of advice: if you have leftovers, I wouldn’t recommend keeping the pecans on top. They get soft and sad. Scrape them off and just eat them. Then the next time you serve them, chop up some more and re-top.
between 3 and 3.5 pounds sweet potatoes/garnet yams, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbsp maple syrup, grade B
1 tsp chipotle powder (or 1 canned chipotle pepper, minced + 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup Spiced Pecans, chopped (depends on the surface area on top of your serving dish how much you’ll need to cover it)
First, make the Spiced Pecans (it says you can use any mixture of nuts in that recipe—for this application, just use pecans).
Steam sweet potatoes in a steamer basket over simmering water for 20 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. (This took me two rounds, but you might be better at fitting in all the sweet potato cubes.)
Empty into a bowl and add the butter and cream. Mash with a potato masher. With a large spatula or spoon, fold in the maple syrup, chipotle, and salt. Taste and adjust for seasonings (not just salt, but the chipotle as well—these aren’t super-spicy, so you can totally add more).
Transfer the sweet potatoes to a serving dish and sprinkle an even layer of pecans on top.
Like many Americans, I have spent the past few days shopping for Thanksgiving ingredients. My dad’s trying out a new preparation for the turkey (the house is already awash in the smell of roasting turkey bits for stock and gravy—he’s got it in the oven overnight), my mom has exhausted every single store in the region trying to find the perfect size and shape onions, and I’m girding myself to try out a new sweet potato dish this year.
I really like sweet potatoes (garnet yams, whatever), as long as you keep them away from that goddamn marshmallow topping. I like my sweet potatoes spiced up with chipotle peppers! You may recall that for several years I attempted to make a perfect version of this Bobby Flay recipe, which my parents ate at his Vegas restaurant. At the restaurant, they received a perfect pie-like slice with perfect layers that stayed together beautifully. My version… oof. Time and time again I tried, and time and time again I ended up with a goopy broken sauce, oceans of oil sitting on top, and an upset stomach. Slices? Layers? Ha! It still tastes pretty good, but the presentation is seriously awful.
This year, I’m going to try something weird—maybe. I’m going to do a dry run of a recipe tomorrow morning, and if it turns out well, I’ll do a full version for Thanksgiving. If not, well, my brother wants me to give the Bobby Flay version another go, but I don’t know if my digestion can handle it. Seriously we just have way too much heavy cream in everything, and I will give up my sweet potato recipe long, long before I say goodbye to my mom’s creamed onions. Those are my #1 Thanksgiving Must-Eat Dish.
(My other Thanksgiving prep today was putting a basecoat on my fingernails and picking out all the most harvest-y colors in my nail polish collection. Holiday manicure!)
It’s funny, I haven’t even posted the recipe I bought the buttermilk for originally, just the ones I made trying to use it up. This bread is good for people who like sweet things. It’s dense, very moist, and heavy on autumn spice flavors. I think it could probably use a bit more salt. And although I used buttermilk, sour cream might be better. Or a bit of orange zest? I just think it needs some more ‘zazz. It’s nice with a cup of tea for breakfast or in the afternoon.
cooking spray or baker’s joy
1–2 sweet potatoes/garnet yams, between 1–1.25 lbs. (you want 1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potato once they’re steamed)
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk (or sour cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon (all spices ground)
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt (full tsp might be better)
Heat oven to 350. Prep a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray or baker’s joy.
Cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and place in a steamer insert. Put an inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place insert in pan and steam sweet potatoes for approximately 15 minutes or until quite soft. Remove to a bowl and mash to a pulp. (This can be done by hand, with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer.)
Mix in the sugars. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and beat until combined. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in stages and mix until the flour mixture has been incorporated thoroughly (however, try not to overbeat—fold in if you’re doing it by hand).
Empty batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake at 350 for 60–75 minutes, checking for doneness with toothpicks. Cool in pan for 15–30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.
I saw this recipe in the latest Cook’s Illustrated, and it looked so bizarre I had to try it. You put the peels in the soup?! So weird! My personal additions were limited to some chipotle powder, because I feel like you can’t have sweet potatoes without some of that smoky spice. Cook’s Illustrated currently has a video detailing this recipe on their website, but I don’t know how long it will be available for non-subscribers. I tried to make an artful drizzle, but it’s kind of… Pollock-y, at best.
4 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 1/2 cups water
2 lbs. sweet potatoes (garnet yams), peeled, halved and sliced 1/4″ thick, plus 1/4 of their peels reserved
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder
extra salt and pepper to taste
minced chives (optional garnish)
Melt butter in a pot. Add shallot and thyme and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until the shallot has softened but not browned. Add water and bring to a boil over high heat (I boiled the water ahead to cut down on the time it would take everything to get hot). Once boiling, turn off the heat and remove the pot to a cool burner. Add the sweet potatoes and peels and let sit uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice so everything gets a chance to be below the water level.
Add sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder. Bring back to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook until potatoes are very soft, 10–15 minutes.
Discard thyme sprigs. Puree the soup with a stick blender (or in batches in a normal blender) until smooth. Return the soup to a simmer and adjust thickness with water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with optional minced chives and a drizzle of…