This weeks Thing Write Thursday has us all thinking about our favorite Thanksgiving recipe.
Now, for me the Thanksgiving meal at my Nana’s house was the Christmas meal as well as the Easter meal. I loved it as a child, that continuity and comfort of those deliciously familiar foods lovingly made from scratch by my Nana. The one exception were the pies (yes plural – pumpkin, apple, and lemon meringue) that my Aunt Arlene made…she is quite simply the best pie maker I have ever known.
From the ham and turkey (yes, both!) to the insanely good mashed potatoes, to the stuffing, to the gravy – it was a feast fit for kings! And it was always at my Nana’s house – where there were two eating areas. The eat-in kitchen where the grand-kids and the aunts all sat and the living room where the uncles all watched football on TV. (Please note, my Nana never sat down to eat, until her daughters would make her! It became a great game – a battle of wills, as it were. However, my Nana explained to me that tasting all day did not leave much room for eating!)
There was much laughter, so much good cheer, and so much love. They are the fondest memories I have of my childhood.
And then you grow up, get married and holidays become more of a challenge. You have new families to be part of with new family traditions. It can feel not very holiday-like when you are missing all those familiar things.
There is one dish my Nana made that I carried with me – sweet potato casserole. The taste of those oven roasted sweet potatoes mashed with lots of butter, some brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg – baked until bubbly perfection and then topped with a billion marshmallows to brown quickly under the broiler. It was the most incredibly concoction ever and just filled me with my Nana’s love and care.
As a child, I loved the sweetness all by itself – it was the epitome of the perfect child’s dish, and as I grew into adulthood; I appreciated the sweet – savory combination of stuffing and sweet potatoes or sweet potatoes and gravy. However, anyway you have it is is simply delicious!
This dish is the one dish that ties me to my childhood and the memories I have of this dish are perhaps some of the oldest memories I have.
Nana’s Sweet Potato Casserole:
- 6-7 large sweet potatoes – washed and scrubbed
- 2-3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup to 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg (I use freshly grated)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ to ¾ cup whipping cream
- 1 bag of miniature marshmallows (or 1 bag of large marshmallows – your choice)
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
Place the sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and put in the oven. Bake until soft – about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of your potatoes. You want them very soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing the skins.
Place skinned potatoes in a mixing bowl and begin adding butter. Mix on a medium-low speed, incorporating more butter. The goal here is a very buttery mixture – you might need 2 sticks – you might need 2 and a half sticks – you might need all three sticks, it really depends on the size of your potatoes.
Add in the brown sugar and spices and mix well.
Add in the egg and mix well until it is all incorporated into the potatoes.
Add in the cream in ¼ cup intervals – again, the larger your potatoes, the more cream you will need. I generally add a half a cup, but if all my potatoes were giant – I would add more cream in. Mix well to combine.
Spoon mixture into a baking dish. (Now is the best part – you can make this the day before. Just cover it and put it in the refrigerator. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before you bake it in the oven, otherwise the cooking time will be much longer)
Bake in the oven until the mixture is bubbly – and you can bake it at whatever temperature you are baking everything else at on Thanksgiving.
When it is done, remove from oven – cover top with marshmallows – and I mean cover. Really, be generous! More is always better!
Place under the broiler to toast them. Please note, you can do this while your turkey is resting and you are making gravy. You just want them under the broiler long enough to brown and melt into the top!
My family and I hope that this recipe brings you as much joy as it has for us over the years.