Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Southern Candied Yams (Sweet Potatoes)

Sweet potatoes baked in a spiced, sugar syrup.
Sweet potatoes baked in a spiced, sugar syrup.

Candied Yams

We 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 synonymously, 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!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Posted by on November 26, 2013

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