One of my favorite things about the holidays is learning the stories behind treasured family recipes. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to holiday meals, and yet I can’t resist the occasional tinkering or experimentation. While our Thanksgiving menu generally resembles the meals I had growing up, I’ve taken a few liberties with some dishes. We rarely spend the holiday with my own family, so I make the sweeter cranberry sauce we prefer instead of my aunt’s cranberry-orange relish, and add blue cheese to my mom’s green bean amandine. Other things, like sweet potato casserole, have made their way to our menu even though I don’t recall having had them as a kid.
For one of the first Thanksgiving meals my husband and I hosted, I decided to add a Southern twist to that ubiquitous sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. (This Oregon girl and New York boy now reside in Virginia; though just slightly in “The South,” there are a few Southern favorites we’ve embraced, like bourbon.) A splash of bourbon and crunch of pecans counters the sweetness, and the result is a fully-loaded crowd pleaser of a casserole that’s earned its place on the table every year. The kids go nuts for the marshmallows while the grown-ups like the sophistication of the bourbon. I’m kidding of course, the grown-ups go just as nuts for the marshmallows as the kids. After all, at what other meal of the year can you get away with topping the vegetables with candy?
Recipe: Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large potatoes)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1/8 cup bourbon whiskey
- 2 cups marshmallows
1. Wash, peel and cut potatoes into large chunks. Place in a large pot and fill with cold water to one inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Drain.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread potatoes in an 9×12-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, brown sugar, pecan pieces, and bourbon. Place marshmallows on top.
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until marshmallow tops are golden brown. Makes 6 servings.
What’s your family’s favorite holiday dish? Macy’s wants to know: Macy’s is cooking up a storm at its Facebook page and asking fans to share their most-loved recipes here. Then, fans can vote for their favorites for a chance to win fun prizes! The Facebook contest is open until November 30.
And, you can enter to win a prize right here: Macy’s is offering one lucky FoodieTots reader a choice of one of four products:
- Martha Stewart Professional Cookware Ceramic Covered Casserole Dish (perfect for sweet potato casserole!)
- Martha Stewart Professional Cookware Hard Anodized Fry Pans (set of 3)
- Martha Stewart Professional Cookware Stainless Steel 15” Roaster with Roasting Rack
- Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook
To enter, simply leave a comment below sharing which item you would choose and what you’d cook with it. The giveaway ends Friday, November 25 at 11:59pm, Eastern time. The winner will be notified by email so be sure to leave a valid email when you comment (will only be visible to me). For additional entries, tweet or share the contest on Facebook, then leave an additional comment here letting me know you’ve done so. Good luck, and happy cooking!
Update: Thanks everyone for entering our holiday giveaway — the contest is now closed and the lucky commenter is #13, Sara. Check your email, Sara!