I have a final tomorrow on the comparative politics of the Nordic countries. For my study break, I will give you the recipe for Peter’s mother’s Tennessee sweet potato casserole. It’s very delicious, and one of those things that is so American that liking it might be required for citizenship. For some reason it tastes like Thanksgiving and Christmas mushed together, I think because of all the brown sugar and vanilla. Its a fantastic example of taking something really healthy and good for you, like a sweet potato, and turning it into something that should be consumed in moderation or risk a sugar coma.
First, my comments: This dish currently straddles the line between food and dessert. Frankly, once looking at the ingredients, I think you’ll agree it should be a dessert, but that never stopped anybody in the ‘ol US of A. Even so, I think that when I make it I will try to bring it a little closer in line with something that could be served on a dinner plate. You could easily halve the sugar in the sweet potato mash, or take it out completely. I’d advise not to touch the sugar in the topping, though, because the caramelized nuts are key part of its charm. Lastly, the marshmallows. Normally I am very snooty about marshmallows, but in this case, I’d make an exception. They add a special something-something. Peter covered half with marshmallows, and half without. I tried both, and I hate to say it, but the marshmallows win. For the doubters among you who can’t overcome your reasonable prejudice, the non-marshmallow side was still excellent. Lastly, put in salt.
I love it. I love how nobody but Americans would think this up. I love how anti-gourmand it is, and I think it will be a new holiday tradition in my one-woman home, both abroad and stateside. Try it sometime. I assure you, something with this much butter, sugar, and nuts cannot help be anything but good. Or so American.
Peter’s Mother’s Tennessee Sweet Potato Casserole
-3 cups mashed sweet potatoes ( or yams)
-1 cup brown sugar [Definitely could half this amount, and still maintain over-the-topness]
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup melted butter
[- 1/2 teaspoon salt, approx., if using unsalted butter]
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/3 cup flour
-1/3 cup melted butter
-1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
-Marshmallows [Optional for the Marshmallow adverse, but please do try to go outside of your boundaries]
Boil peeled sweet potatoes in water until tender and then mash them into as smooth a consistency as possible or use canned seet potatoes or yams. [NOOOooo don’t use canned! Please no.] Combine first 6 ingredients with the mashed potatoes. Pour mixture into a buttered 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Mix the remaining ingredients sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until it is hot and browned on top. This will serve 6-8 people. Put the marshmallows on top of the topping. [And put back in the oven, ideally under the broiler, Peter forgets to say] Watch the marshmallows so that they don’t burn.
~Peter [and me]
P.S. By the way, did you know that the standard Danish work week is only 37 hours, they get six weeks of vacation, AND they have virtually no youth unemployment? This last point is accomplished by forcing all young people who have not found work after six months to either accept half their unemployment benefits, or undergo job training. See, I’m learning things!