132. Sweet Potato Casserole: Dessert in Disguise

21 Nov

sweet potato casseroleSome Southerners are partial to the pie, but I prefer my sweet potatoes in a casserole. Mainly because it allows me to fool myself into thinking that what I’m eating is a vegetable, not dessert.

I’m not sure how I got elected for the job, but I’m the official Holloway sweet potato casserole queen. (Not to be confused with an actual Sweet Potato Queen.) Every Christmas, I whip up a big dish of the delectable stuff, but not before arguing with my sister about how much to make. She pushes me to triple the recipe, but I stand firm at double, seeing as we always end up with way too many leftovers. Even a die-hard sweet potato fan gets a little queasy at the thought of eating reheated casserole more than three days in a row.

Back in the days before we switched from canned to fresh sweet potatoes, I had a whole other argument with my Mom each year. She tried to convince me that I should include the liquid from the can, when clearly draining is the only way to go. Unless you want sweet potato soup. Which I don’t.

For Southerners, sweet potato casseroles fall into two distinct camps: marshmallow topping or pecan/brown sugar crumble. The Holloways are nut people. That’s not to say I’d abstain from eating the marshmallow variety. Quite the contrary. I run across sweet potato casserole about as frequently as Baptists enter dance halls by the front door so I take what I can get. But given my druthers, I’ll opt for pecans.

BC sweet potato casseroleA while back I was browsing Grocery Outlet, where one can find an array of interesting products not seen in major chains. I’m talking Kellogg’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Corn Pops, Lil’ Joey Pancake Pockets, and Spam Singles. Imagine my shock and horror when I happened upon Betty Crocker’s Sweet Potato Casserole mix. Why, Betty? Why?

Sweet potato casserole isn’t hard to make. Especially when one is left alone in the kitchen. Sure, it always takes about twice as long as I think it will. And peeling sweet potatoes is a pain in the ass. But I’d never resort to serving “casserole” made with a blend of reconstituted sweet and russet (WTF?) potatoes. Prior to the zombie apocalypse, anyway.

Some of my family’s best loved dishes are related to us by marriage. I’m sure we’d have adored my sister-in-law Karen even if she’d come with an empty recipe box. Thankfully, we’ll never have to find out.

Karen Holloway’s Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups sweet potatoes (drained)
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 t vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup milk

Boil sweet potatoes over medium high heat till tender. Drain and mash. In a large bowl, mix potatoes with all other ingredients and pour into a buttered baking dish.

Top with the following mixture:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter (melted)
1 cup chopped pecans

Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until top is browned

Notes: I’m not sure how many sweet potatoes equal three cups. I usually peel and cut up a few and add them to a 4-cup measuring cup. I fill the cup to the top to compensate for the gaps around the pieces. I tend to err on the side of too much potato. If anybody has a better way of guestimating three cups of potatoes, please enlighten me.

When doubling the recipe, I usually just use one and a half times the topping. When tripling the recipe…oh right, I don’t.

The size of baking dish wasn’t specified. Similar recipes call for 1 1/2 to 2 qt. casserole dishes. I usually opt for a 9 X 13 dish, unless I’m doubling in which case I use the biggest dish I can find.

The recipe calls for 20 minutes bake time, but I’d allow at least 40. You want the top to be good and crunchy.

What’s your pleasure: Nuts or marshmallows? Have you ever done both?

Photo credit: Sweet potato casserole by bengarland, Flickr Creative Commons.

7 Responses to “132. Sweet Potato Casserole: Dessert in Disguise”

  1. Jane Henry November 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    I’ve made sweet potato casserole with half marshmallow topping and half nut topping. We’re flexible here in Leeds Alabama.

    • Kim Holloway November 26, 2013 at 9:34 am #

      Jane, I saw the Neeley’s do that once when I was watching TV at my sister’s house. We thought it sounded like a fine idea, but haven’t yet gotten around to it.

  2. Anne Dantre November 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    I saw a can of Sweet Potato Casserole made by Glory. I couldn’t help myself – I just had to put it in the buggy. I got two cans actually. It was so not worth it – duh!. I put the other can in the bag of fixings I put together for the food bank. Was that wrong? I’m a bad person, aren’t I?

    • Kim Holloway November 26, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      Anne, that’s hilarious! I wouldn’t say you’re a bad person; only kind folks donate to food banks in the first place. Surely somebody in the universe must like the stuff, seeing as it made its way onto grocery store shelves.

  3. CL Hall November 27, 2013 at 5:33 am #

    Peeling sweet potatoes is easy! Boil them whole with skins on. Cool. Then they will slide right off!

  4. schrodie March 12, 2016 at 12:03 am #

    Aw, heck. I just wrap my sweet potatoes up in some foil, set them on a pizza pan or cookie sheet and roast them in the oven until they get pretty soft but still have some solid texture and they start to ooze just a little bit. Let cool down enough to handle. Skins slip right off and the tater doesn’t get all watered down from boiling in a pot. You save all that good flavor and nutrition because it doesn’t wash away in the cooking water. Plus the potatoes begin to develop even more of that sweet, caramel-like flavor before you ever have to add any sugar. Proceed with the rest of your recipe but taste and adjust the sugar as needed. The roasting before mashing might release additional sugar from the potato and you might not need to add quite as much. Let your taste buds be the judge.

    P.S. I’m from Texas. Pecan, baby! We have pecans all over the place here, both native and papershell hybrids. They fall off the trees, free for the gathering every fall. None in my yard but there’s no need since the dadgum things grow wild and in every other yard in the neighborhood. 🙂

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