My mother made sweet potatoes every Thanksgiving and it’s our tradition too. I didn’t get my mother’s recipe but she always included crushed pineapple. Over the years I have tried many different ingredients such as butter, warm milk or cream, white or brown sugar, and even ginger, but I think the simple recipe here is the best.
You can size this recipe up or down. Use one large sweet potato for each person you plan to serve and adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov uses a slow-cooking technique he picked up in Tel Aviv to create the sweetest, creamiest potatoes at his restaurant Zahav. His 2015 article in Saveur details his method for slow-cooking sweet potatoes. Cooks Illustrated jumped on the slow-cooked sweet potato bandwagon in September & October 2017 with a part-microwave modification that speeds results.
All sweet potatoes are good but some are even better than the rest. My favorite are the organic sweet potatoes from Bill Jardine’s farm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We used to get a 40-pound bag every fall.
And according to the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission Foundation, yams are actually sweet potatoes.
12 large sweet potatoes
1 large and 1 small cans of crushed pineapple in 100% juice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
Bake sweet potatoes in oven at 275°F for 2 1/2 hours. Be prepared for them to leak sugary juice all over your oven. Cooking the sweet potatoes for this long caramelizes the natural sugars and gelatinizes the starch granules in the sweet potatoes, making them sweet and creamy.
Cool overnight for optimal handling, or at least until cool to avoid burning your fingers. Peel off the skins and put the sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl. Add pineapple, nutmeg, and salt. Taste and add more of anything you think it needs. If your mixture is particularly bland, the juice from a small lemon should help. Mix very well. If you have a stand mixer, it is perfect for this task.
Put the mixed-up sweet potatoes in a casserole big enough to hold them. I use my very large white rectangular casserole which is about 12 x 16” and holds up to 16 sweet potatoes. Cover with aluminum foil. You can freeze the sweet potatoes at this point until you want to eat them. If you do freeze them, take out of the freezer the night before you want to eat them and leave out on the counter overnight to thaw.
About an hour before you plan to eat, put the still-covered sweet potato casserole into the oven to heat up. If I had my choice of temperatures I would use about 350˚F, but anything from 325˚F to 425˚F works. You might have other things cooking in the oven! Science tells us that the higher the temperature, the faster the sweet potatoes will heat up.
Once they are hot, line up rows of marshmallows on the top and put the casserole back into the oven uncovered until the marshmallows are browned, about 5 more minutes.