It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, or what meal is being prepared, there are some foods that each of us love any time we can get our hands (and mouths) on it. For me, one of those foods is sweet potato casserole. I had it (in this form) first at a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and absolutely fell in love with it. As in, ‘keep your fork away, this is MINE’ love it. And every time I went to a Ruth’s Chris, that was the main draw for me. Yeah, the petite filet mignon melts in your mouth, and all the other food is good too, but for me the main point of going was to get sweet potato casserole.
But it’s incredibly sweet, so much so that you really don’t need any dessert when you’ve eaten it. I realized this when I found a recipe online for it and looked at how much sugar was added. Yikes!! You can find that original version here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/333489, down in the comments. (Just checked today, 11/28/13, and it’s still there. No promises it will be there in the future, you know how the Internet is!)
Over time, I’ve perfected my own version, with a lot less sugar (they are SWEET potatoes, after all), and it’s been a hit with everyone who has tasted it. I’ve served it fresh from the oven, reheated as leftovers, and cold from the fridge; there are no bad ways to serve this dish. So, I decided today is a good day to share it with others. Don’t skimp on the brown sugar in the crust; if you need to reduce sugar, reduce it in the sweet potato mixture. This is one of those dishes where you splurge your butter and sugar points because it’s just worth it.
“Better Than Ruth’s Chris” Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Mixture:
3 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 c. melted butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. chopped pecans
1/3 c. melted butter
Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add sweet potatoes and boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Preheat oven to 350F. Mash sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, add in sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, and butter in that order. Mix well.
Combine crust ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
Pour sweet potato mixture into 2 quart buttered baking dish. Cover surface evenly with crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until edges of crust are slightly darker and crunchy. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
Note: if you are making this with a large chunk of meat (like Easter ham or Thanksgiving turkey), put casserole in oven during the last 45 minutes with meat being cooked at 325F. Usually meats need to “rest” for a while before serving, so this timing works well.