Next to pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes are the dish I most look forward to at Thanksgiving. My family doesn’t have one traditional sweet potato side-dish; it varied year by year depending on who hosted. Some years they were citrusy with a hint of warm cloves. Other years they were creamy, rich and neatly lined with pecans around the edges. They were usually always delicious. So when I set out to find a recipe to use for my first Thanksgiving as the host, I looked at many, many sweet potato recipes. I tried several and have settled on the one that makes me feel warm and cozy on the inside without being too heavy. These sweet potatoes are mixed with nutmeg and fresh orange juice, then topped with caramelized apples – essentially, they taste like Thanksgiving on a plate. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s Parties, which I modified by omitting the heavy cream. They’re still luxurious and taste sinful, as any good sweet potato side dish worthy of Thanksgiving should taste.
This picture is from my test batch. For the actual event I plan to serve the sweet potatoes in a round casserole dish and place the caramelized apples in a neat circlular pattern before baking.
Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Apples
4 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 6 large)
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (you can substitute concentrated)
4 Tbs. unsalted butter (½ stick), melted
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black better
For the topping
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 McIntosh or Macoun apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
3 Tbs. light brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prick potatoes several times with a knife, wrap each potato individually in tin foil and bake on a baking sheet lined with foil for 1 hour, or until very soft when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and place in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add orange juice, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Mix together until combined but not smooth, and pour into a baking dish coated with nonstick spray.
2. For the topping, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple wedges and brown sugar and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on both sides. Place on top of sweet potatoes.
3. Bake potatoes and apples for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through.