once upon a chef
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I think most of us would say, “Don’t get fancy on me, just make the standards really special.” That’s why this down-home sweet potato casserole is always a big hit. It’s an old Southern specialty that graces almost every holiday table. Instead of the traditional marshmallow topping, I cover the sweet potatoes with a crunchy brown sugar-pecan streusel — it absolutely makes the dish. Like most Thanksgiving sweet potato sides, it’s almost sweet enough to be dessert. It’s “that dish,” the one everyone reaches their fork into long after the meal is done.
FOR THE SWEET POTATO MIXTURE – 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks – ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted – ¾ teaspoon salt – ½ cup packed light brown sugar – ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg – 2 large eggs, lightly beaten FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING – ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter – 1 cup packed light brown sugar – ⅓ cup flour – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon – 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until soft and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and let cool.
In the meantime, make the topping: Melt the butter in a medium bowl the microwave. (Alternatively, melt the butter in a small pan or over low heat and transfer to a medium bowl.)
Add the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Mix until well combined. It should look a little clumpy.
Place the cooked and drained sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or large fork until very smooth.
Add the melted butter, salt, and brown sugar and nutmeg. Mix well, then add the eggs.
Stir to combine. It’s okay if it is not completely smooth. Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a 2-quart baking dish and spread evenly.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sweet potato mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes, uncovered, or until the topping is nicely browned. Let cool slightly before serving.
If you’d like to break up the preparation of this dish a bit, feel free to make and refrigerate the streusel a few days ahead. Or, if you really want to get a head start, assemble and refrigerate the whole casserole up to two days ahead of time. Bake right before serving for best results. Enjoy!