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Bourbon-pecan sweet potato casserole

This grown-up version of sweet potato casserole will have your guests’ tastebuds celebrating. Sweet, buttery, crunchy flavors and textures — combined with the zip of bourbon — make this side dish perfect for the holidays.

Starting in the early 1900s, home cooks began adding marshmallows to the top of their sweet potato casseroles. It’s fairly common knowledge that the recipe actually was part of a promotion by the Cracker Jack Company to increase the popularity their Angelus brand of marshmallows.

While it may have been a marketing ploy, Americans grabbed onto the idea and never let go. But this year, why not jazz up the old standby with a little spirited crunch?

For this recipe, look for small- to medium-sized potatoes without any bad spots. (The larger the sweet potato, the starchier the flesh.) Store the sweet potatoes in a cool, dry location (cupboard or pantry, not refrigerator) until needed.

This recipe needs four small potatoes that should be peeled and quartered before boiling until tender.

While adding the ingredients for this casserole to my shopping list, I realized that I couldn’t wait to mix butter, pecans, brown sugar and cornflakes. I might sneak in a little cinnamon if no one is looking.

As for the alcohol, look for bourbon whiskey. If your family doesn’t mix drinks during the holidays, a sampler bottle of Jim Beam would be enough for the recipe. (A substitution of good vanilla, rum or brandy extract is acceptable, too.)

Yam or sweet potato?

To save you an embarrassing moment if there’s a biology or botany major at your holiday table, here’s the difference between a yam and a sweet potato: A yam is an edible root from the Caribbean with a skin texture and sugar content that differs from that of a sweet potato. Somewhere along the line, produce sellers tired of clarifying the difference between the two similar-tasting veggies, so they began interchanging the names.

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Bourbon pecan sweet potato casserole

Cook

Inactive

Total

Yield 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 small sweet potatoes (dark-skinned orange potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (generous 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place yams in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cook on medium heat, with lid slightly ajar, until yams can be pierced easily with a fork.
  3. Drain potatoes. Using potato masher, mash until all lumps are removed. Add butter and continue to mash until well combined. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients including sugar, eggs, salt, milk, vanilla and bourbon. Mix well.
  5. Add sugar mixture to mashed sweet potatoes.
  6. Pour mixture into a 9” x 12” casserole dish. Set aside.
  7. Heat topping ingredients (brown sugar, corn flakes, pecans and butter) in small saucepan until melted. Stir well.
  8. Spread topping over top of casserole and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.

Courses Side dish

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