Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and one thing I like to do is try and elevate some of my dishes. I take a dish that I would make for any Friday night and give it a little more pizzazz. Sweet potatoes are a classic fall side dish. They have so more potential than being simply roasted or mashed and baked in a casserole with marshmallows on top.
First thing you can do is a add some warm fall spices to your mash. Flavors such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg will give your sweet potatoes a nice zing. If you really like it you also add some clove, but use it sparingly as it can easily overtake a dish. Adding a bit of maple syrup for some complex sweetness wouldn’t be a bad thing either. Just please do not use “pancake syrup.” If you don’t have real maple syrup you can use honey in a pinch. The pecans also give some nice textural contrast to what is otherwise a fairly mushy dish.
By piping the sweet potato back in to the skin you get a fun presentation. When you make individual portions as opposed to a large casserole, it seems a little more special and brings a little bit extra to your holiday table. This will be a dish that deserves a place right next to your beautifully cooked turkey (or duck if you want to do something a little different). Just don’t let me catch you putting them next to the cranberry sauce that still looks like the can.
Also, please don’t call them yams. Sweet potatoes and yams are two different things. Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s latest Thanksgiving recipe: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cornbread or our other Thanksgiving recipes. Finally, let us know how you make Thanksgiving special or just something are thankful for in the comments.
A tasty side dish for your Thanksgiving table
- 6 Large Sweet Potatoes
- 1 Stick Butter or Margarine
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Ginger
- 1 tbsp Nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper To taste
- Real Maple Syrup For brushing on top of your sweet potatoes
- 48 Whole Pecans
Position a rack in your oven in the farthest position from the heat source that still allows you to enough space for a baking sheet loaded with sweet potatoes. If the heating element is on the bottom place your rack towards the top, and if the heating element is on the bottom then place the rack towards the bottom. This helps the sweet potatoes bake more evenly.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Wash the outside of your sweet potatoes and place them whole on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake until a paring knife easily goes through your largest potato, about a 1 ½ hours. Be careful to try and pierce the sweet potato as close to center as possible as you will be splitting the potato and reusing the skin later.
Allow your sweet potatoes to cool completely. Then cut them in half the long way and scoop out the flesh, being careful not tear the skin, and add it to a large mixing bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350°F again.
Add the butter (or margarine), cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and pepper to the sweet potato flesh and mash until smooth.
Place the sweet potato mixture in a piping bag. Place the skins on parchment lined baking sheet and and use the piping bag to refill the skins. It should fill about 6 skins. If you are feeling fancy, use different tips to a cool design.
Brush the top of each sweet potato with maple syrup and artfully place 8 pecans on each sweet potato . Then brush the pecans with maple syrup.
Bake until the the top starts to brown, about 30 minutes, and serve immediately.