Cranberries may be my favorite part of Thanksgiving, but they certainly aren’t the only exciting dish on the table. Sweet potatoes are also a crucial part of the feast for me, particularly when topped with marshmallows.
Growing up, the only kind of sweet potatoes I remember eating is the (fabulous) kind my mom made — boiled, mashed, mixed with brown sugar, butter, orange juice and spices and topped with melty, browned marshmallows. Perfection. The baked sweet potatoes with marshmallows and caramel sauce at one of the myriad steakhouses in Jacksonville, N.C., are also delightful.
But more recently, I learned that, at some point in the indeterminate past, an intrepid soul in my husband’s home state had the idea to add bourbon (of course) to the starchy orange root.
I was intrigued by this idea, but since I had already made coconut sweet potatoes, sweet potato “fries,” sweet potato-pecan cupcakes with marshmallow meringue frosting, chipotle sweet potatoes and sweet potato biscuits, I thought I could probably wait a bit before whipping up some bourbon-laced sweet potatoes.
Luckily for you (and us), the wait is over. I made these the other night and was quite happy with how they turned out.
I didn’t have any mini marshmallows, so I decided to throw some pecans on top for texture. A crumble-style topping would also work well. Just go with what you have on hand!
Bourbon sweet potatoes (Serves 4-6)
4-5 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 tablespoon orange juice
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
For topping: mini marshmallows or 1 cup chopped pecans, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, pinch of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400F. Rinse and pat the sweet potatoes dry, then use a fork to poke a few holes in the top. Set the potatoes in the heated oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, until goo starts oozing from the tiny holes and the potatoes give a bit when squeezed (use a pot holder, please!).*
Turn oven temperature down to 350F.
Allow sweet potatoes to cool a bit, then remove the skins and place insides in a medium bowl. Add bourbon, orange juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and spices. Mix with a handheld electric mixer until well blended. Taste and add more brown sugar if necessary (you may want them a bit less sweet if you’re topping them with marshmallows).
Place potatoes in a baking dish and smooth with the back of a spoon. If using nut topping, toast the pecans in dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until they start to smell nutty. If desired, add butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir to coat and cook for about an additional minute.
Spread nuts across the top of the sweet potato mixture and bake the entire thing for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately.
*If you don’t have the time or inclination to bake your sweet potatoes, peel and chop them into pieces, then boil 15-20 minutes, or until you can easily pierce them with a fork.