A Thanksgiving Favorite: Sweet Potato Casserole

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and you’re stumped as to how you’re going to bring a little sweetness to the table? Never fear: we’ve got a recipe from the archives for you. From Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s The Gift of Southern Cooking comes a real Deep South classic: sweet potato casserole.

Makes enough to serve 12

5 pounds small sweet potatoes (about 10 potatoes)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar?3eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups milk, heated
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For the topping:
1 cup light-brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the sweet potatoes, and put them on a foil—or parchment—lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 1-1 1/2 hours, until they are very tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly, then peel. Put the peeled sweet potatoes into the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with beaters or a whip attachment. Mix the hot sweet potatoes on low speed to begin mashing them. Add the butter, and mix until it is absorbed. Add the salt, nutmeg, honey, and both sugars, and mix until they are thoroughly blended. Add the lightly beaten eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowly add the heated milk. When the milk is incorporated, taste carefully for seasoning, and add more salt or nutmeg as needed. Thoroughly butter a 9-by-13-by-2 inch baking dish with the softened butter, and pour the sweet-potato mixture into it.

Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Make the topping: Put the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a mixing bowl and mix well, Use your fingers to work the chilled butter into the mixture until it resembles oatmeal with some pea-size pieces of butter in it. Stir in the pecan pieces, and mix well. Sprinkle the mixture evently over the top of the sweet potatoes, and bake in the 375 degrees oven for 30-45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and crisp and the sweet poetatoes are set but still slightly loose in the center. Serve hot.

Excerpted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Copyright 2003 by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher, but if you like what you taste, buy the cookbook!