The LA to L.A. Chef: Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Praline Topping


GISELE PEREZ

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When I was young, I ate many a dinner at my Aunt Eura’s house. She came from a large family of sisters, all of whom were great cooks, and I consider her the best cook I knew as a child.

One of her dishes I still pine for today – her Candied Yams. For years I kept away from candied yams in the kitchen, mostly because in my few attempts at making them, I’ve never been able to replicate Aunt Eura’s. I once asked my cousin Allyson if she could make them like her mother. She, too, got that dreamy look in her eyes, “they were good, weren’t they?”

At that point, I concluded they were lost to me forever, so several years back, I developed my own sweet potato dish for the holidays, this wonderful Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Topping. Eventually, I learned to make a passably decent dish of Candied Yams, but a funny thing happened along the way – this dish became my family’s favorite. And now I’m sharing it with you. Maybe your family will discover a new favorite, too.

SWEET POTATO

Sweet Potato Purée with Pecan Praline Topping

  • 6 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8-9 large)

  • 1 cup  dark brown sugar

  • 6 ounces butter

  • Approximatly 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Rinse the sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork in several places. Then roast them on a foil lined baking sheet at 375 degrees until  tender, about 50 minutes.

2. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool slightly, then puree them in a food processor with butter and brown sugar. I do this in several stages. Stir in the nutmeg.

3. Pour the sweet potato mixture into a baking dish (I use a 2 quart capacity oval ceramic baker) and smooth the top. This step can be done a day ahead, covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.

4. Pour the Pecan Praline Topping (recipe below) over the potatoes and bake until the top is brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes). If you would like a browner, crispier top, you may run the potato casserole under broiler for a minute or so, but keep a close eye in them, as pecans burn quickly!

Pecan Praline Topping

    •    1/2 cup white sugar

    •    1/2 cup brown sugar

    •    3/4 cup heavy cream

    •    1 1/4 cup pecans

Combine the sugars and cream in a saucepan, and stir over heat just until the sugars are dissolved. Add the pecans.

Serves 10

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