|Sweet potatoes baked in a spiced, sugar syrup.|
Candied YamsWe eat a lot of sweet potatoes here in the Deep South, and especially in Mississippi and Louisiana, because they are state crops for us, fresh and in abundance, especially in the fall and winter months.
They always show up on our holiday tables of course, often in the form of gooey sweet potato casseroles covered in traditional marshmallows or a pecan praline topping, or dripping in a sugary syrup. Even with those dishes appearing on the table, you're also very likely to see a platter of them simply baked. We eat them year round that way!
Mama made them, and my mother in law always has them on the table for every major holiday dinner. I eat them very simply - just split and topped with butter mostly, maybe a little sprinkle of cinnamon sugar if I'm feeling adventurous. Some folks make them into mini sweet potato casseroles by mashing the pulp with some butter and spices and topping them with a pecan praline mixture or mini marshmallows before passing them under the broiler.
I call this recipe candied yams, because, well, that's what we call our sweet potatoes prepared this way in the South, even though we are well aware that they are not a true yam.
Here in The South, the terms "sweet potatoes" and "yams" are used synonyomously, as one and the same, though most often, when a recipe calls for "yams" they are often referring to canned sweet potatoes. If you look carefully, somewhere in small type on the label of yams, you'll usually find the words "sweet potatoes."
I talk about all that in a bit more detail on my sweet potato post, which includes a number of ways to prepare them, from good ole baked to french fried, roasted, grilled and this yummy twice-baked version.
Just eat 'em - they're good!
Here's another great way to enjoy them and it's very simple. Unless you are cooking them in a skillet on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, you really do need to pre-cook sweet potatoes for this dish, otherwise they take much longer to cook completely through in the oven, will often still be raw in the center, and you risk burning the syrup and making the whole dish bitter. The good news is that it's something that you can do ahead of time. Instructions for cooking the sweet potatoes are with the full recipe below, in the section called "Cook's Notes." Just scroll to the bottom of the recipe.
Once they've cooled, peel them, cut them into chunks, or slices about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in size, layer them into your casserole dish, make the syrup, pour over, toss and bake!
Recipe: Southern Candied Yams (Sweet Potatoes)©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 35 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 3 pounds of raw sweet potatoes, about 4 medium, cooked
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, optional
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1-1/2 quart or 8 x 8 inch baking dish; set aside. Peel and slice or cut cooked sweet potatoes into chunks and layer into prepared dish, seasoning with salt in between layers.
Place water and sugars into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring regularly, for about 3 minutes, or until sugars are well dissolved. Add the spices, pepper and butter; stir in until butter is completely melted. Pour mixture over the sweet potatoes and gently toss to coat all of the pieces; taste and adjust for seasonings.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until fork tender, basting several times using a spoon or a bulb baster, to avoid breaking up the sweet potatoes. Remove and baste again before serving.
Cook's Notes: Boil sweet potatoes whole and unpeeled until tender, about 10 minutes, or may also bake at 400 degrees F for about 45-50 minutes, or just until fork tender. Actual times will be dependent on size. You want them tender but not mushy. Set aside until cool enough to handle for peeling and slicing. May be prepared in advance. I prefer to use a light brown sugar, but if you like a heavier molasses flavor, use dark. I also use unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, take care with additional salt, adjusting as needed, to taste. Double in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish for the holidays.
Slow Cooker: Peel and carefully slice raw sweet potatoes; add to slow cooker. Prepare syrup as above and pour over sweet potatoes. Toss, cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, checking first at 4 hours, or until tender, gently tossing several times.
Stovetop: Peel and carefully slice raw sweet potatoes and place into a large skillet. Prepare the syrup as above and pour all over the sweet potatoes. Toss, cover and cook over very low for about 1 hour, or until tender, gently stirring several times.
For Praline Yams: Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the syrup and pour over the cooked sweet potatoes; toss and bake as above.
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©Deep South Dish
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Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole
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