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Chef Dad’s Sweet Potato Casserole

3 lbs. Yams (about 4 large or 5 medium yams, from your grocers produce dept.)
1 Stick Unsalted Butter
¼ Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Orange Juice
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp. Salt
2 Eggs (lightly beaten)
For the Topping…
½ Cup Light brown sugar
¼ Cup (4 Tbsp.) Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
¼ Cup All Purpose Flour


1)      Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Take your butter out of the fridge (1 stick for the yam mixture plus 4 Tbsp. for the topping – keep separated) and let it come to room temperature while you cook the yams.
2)      Poke a few holes in your yams with a fork or knife then put on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake for 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes).  Remove yams from the oven then turn temperature down to 350 degrees if you’re cooking it right away.   
3)      Slice yams in half lengthwise then spoon meat away from the skin into a stand mixer or large bowl.  Discard the skins*.  Add 1 stick of butter, sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, vanilla & salt.  Run mixer on low speed at first then increase speed as it starts coming together.  After about one minute of mixing, taste it to see if you want more sugar or cinnamon. After it tastes just right, add the beaten eggs and continue mixing until you get a nice smooth consistency.  If you don’t have a stand mixer or hand held electric mixer, use a potato masher or large fork then a whisk to combine your ingredients.  If the mixture seems a little too dry to you, add a little more orange juice.  Move mixture into a casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray or butter.
4)      Make the topping by first combining brown sugar with softened butter using your hands.  Toss pecans in a small bowl with the flour before adding it to the brown sugar & butter mixture.  Combine these 4 ingredients together until you get a crumbled texture then sprinkle evenly over the top of your yam mixture that’s in the casserole dish.
5)      Bake for 30 minutes then serve.

This recipe serves 8-10 people as a side dish.

*If you don’t want to waste the skins, we like to chop them up and toss with a little melted butter, sugar & cinnamon as an additional side dish.

Cooks Note: This dish won’t taste nearly as good with canned yams (2 large cans), but if you do use them, be sure you drain the juices and eliminate the white sugar since they are pre-sweetened.  If you make this dish a day ahead of time, make sure you cover it then when you’re ready; take it out of the fridge two hours prior to cooking so it comes closer to room temperature.  Remove the cover then bake for 30 minutes @ 350 degrees.
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