I’m hardly the only person in the country who has a serious smorgasbord sprawled around the dining room table every Thanksgiving. My family always has the traditional staples– turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce– and a few oddballs– Grandma Sandy’s steamed pork dumplings, whatever last-minute concoction I come up with, et cetera. However, there has never been a sweet potato dish in my Thanksgiving spread. Why? I don’t know.
But that is all about to change.
We’ve neglected one my favorite fall ingredients for the past 23 years of my life, and I had to put an end to it. I decided to experiment with sweet potatoes and different flavors to come up with a mashed sweet potato worthy of Thanksgiving dinner. I realized that the perfect mashed sweet potatoes could take a little tweaking time, so I gave myself a few weeks before Thanksgiving for trial and error. Knowing myself, I assumed there would be a lot of error. (I won’t pretend I usually get it perfect the first time around. Ask James or any of my friends/family members what I’m like when I’m testing out a new recipe idea and I guarantee it will scare you. Here’s a glimpse: there’s lots of inappropriate language, mess, and “I guess we’re ordering pizza tonight”s. Then the next day I remake it, but with slight alterations, and everything is great.)
Believe it or not, I actually didn’t need all that time to prepare because I got this one on the first try. (Gasp!) The star is the brown butter, which I will proceed to put in everything for the rest of my existence, because it’s spawned yet another food obsession. The thyme really accents the sweet potato well, but doesn’t overwhelm it or make it too complex, which is exactly what I prefer in a side dish. Overall, I just really enjoyed it, my family enjoyed it, and if you like sweet potatoes, I think you’ll enjoy it too.
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 stick butter
- 2 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Keep them in the very center of the sheet, and place the garlic cloves in between the potatoes. Spray everything with olive oil cooking spray (or drizzle with olive oil) and wrap in the foil. Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 1 hour to 1 ½ hours.
- As the potatoes cool, prepare the browned butter.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has entirely melted, add in the thyme and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook until the butter turns a nutty brown, making sure not to let it burn. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Peel the skins of the potatoes and mash the sweet potatoes using a potato masher or potato ricer. As you mash them, add in a bit of browned butter at a time, and mix. You can optionally add in some of the roasted garlic in this stage.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, keep warm, and serve.
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