Sunday, November 8, 2009

Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

Classic old fashioned souffled sweet potato casserole topped in the traditional way with gooey marshmallows, or if you prefer, a praline topping.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I don't know what it is about sweet potatoes fluffed up souffle like and topped with gooey marshmallows, but we sure love this dish down here in The Deep South and it is a rare Southern table that is not graced with it on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both.

Although a pone can refer to many different dishes, including cornbread, you may have heard this dish referred to as sweet potato pone. As always in different regions of the South, recipe ingredients for a pone do vary widely, but I have noted that sweet potato pone is rarely topped with anything at all. It is more of a simple bake, seasoned with classic pie spices and perhaps a little more dense than what we are accustomed to in a sweet potato casserole. In New Orleans, a sweet potato pone was called pain patate in years past, where it was made with grated sweet potatoes, and often includes flour, making it much more dense and nearly a cake-like pudding, and often included a pinch of cracked black pepper to offset the sweetness of the sugar.

Yes we know it gets a bad rap from some folks, particularly those who don't have the privilege of living in our beautiful South. They make fun of it and call it names. And they make fun of Southerners for loving it, but we love it, so when you insult it, know that you are also insulting hundreds of thousands of Southern folks who love it, bless your heart.

It's really okay if you prefer a praline topping over the marshmallows too. We southerners have been known to top a few things with pecans here and there and so we might know a thing or two about that too. Or... top it with whatever you like, something out of the ordinary even. I have indeed seen some strange things in the name of a sweet potato casserole, but mini marshmallows is the way we usually roll Down South. It is simply traditional for us. My recipe includes a praline topping if you'd rather that over the gooey marshmallows, or go crazy and do both!

And, like I ask regarding our beloved cream soups found in traditional holiday dishes like Green Bean Casserole, I'd like to also ask that you please stop trash talkin' this classic too, if you don't mind. Remember mama's advice that if you don't have something nice to say, well.. if you're a proper southerner, you know the rest.

This recipe serves about 6 or so as written. For the holidays double it. While you're here, be sure to click on over to browse more traditional southern Thanksgiving recipes, or check out our Christmas recipes too.

Here's how to make my version of sweet potato casserole.

You'll need about 3 cups or so of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes. You can boil, bake or microwave them, whatever is your favorite way. Once they are cooked, mash them up with the butter and let them cool. You may also substitute canned yams, which in the U.S. are really canned sweet potatoes and not yams at all. You can read more about that on my sweet potato page, where, by the way you'll find all kinds of ways to enjoy them. For this recipe you'll want about 3 (16 ounce) cans of candied yams, drained (like Bruce's brand), however, remember that you'll need to adjust sugar down accordingly to taste.

Add half of the sugar at first, then all of the spices, salt, vanilla and half and half.

Mash it up well and taste. Adjust the seasonings to your taste, then add the beaten eggs.

Transfer that to a 1 to 1-1/2 quart buttered baking dish, cover and bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until everything is heated through well.

Remove, uncover and spread marshmallows on the top, bake uncovered about 10 minutes longer, or until marshmallows are nicely browned, but keep an eye on them so you don't burn the top. Marshmallows will puff up as they cook so for insurance, you may want to bake the casserole on an aluminum foil covered pan. It's much easier to clean that than it is to clean the bottom of the oven!

Recipe: Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 to 4 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, or to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of half and half
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of mini marshmallows, or praline topping below

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 1-1/2 to 2 quart casserole dish; set aside.

Mash the cooked and cooled sweet potatoes until smooth; add the butter, half the sugar, pinch of salt and all of the half and half, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla extract; stir well and taste. Add the remaining sugar as needed to taste. Add the eggs and combine well. Pour into the casserole dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until heated through well.

Remove, uncover and spread marshmallows on the top, bake uncovered about 10 minutes longer, or until marshmallows are nicely browned.

Serves about 6 - Double for the holidays.

Cook's Notes: Sweet potatoes may be boiled, baked or microwaved to cook. May substitute 3 (16 ounce) cans of candied yams, drained (like Bruce's brand), however, adjust sugar down accordingly to taste. Taste for sweetness before cooking, after adding all of the spices, but before adding the eggs. Marshmallows will puff up as they cook so for insurance, you may want to bake the casserole on an aluminum foil covered pan.

Make Ahead: If using the praline topping you can assemble this entire casserole the day before if you like. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature for about 30 minutes, and if using marshmallows, wait to add those as directed above.

Praline Topping:

This is enough praline topping for the casserole above, doubled. Reduce by half for the 6 serving size.
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • Whole pecan halves for garnish, optional
Melt the butter. Meanwhile mix the brown sugar, flour and pecans in a small bowl. Pour the butter into the brown sugar mixture and stir with a fork until well mixed. Eliminate the marshmallows and sprinkle the pecan mixture all over the top of the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with whole pecan halves after removing from the oven, if desired.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on November 8, 2009

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Made with canned yams.

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