Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pecan-Topped Yams

Of all the foods that regularly show up on the Thanksgiving table, yams are probably the least likely to make an appearance on any other day of the year. The turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. usually come around again at Christmastime or on an equally special occasion, but yams? They seem to be reserved exclusively for the end-of-autumn feast.

So if these orange beauties are showing up on your Thanksgiving menu this year, it’s best to make them memorable. If you usually serve yams topped with marshmallows or candied in syrup, I beg you to give this method a try instead. The end result is still sweet, but with a greater complexity of flavor and a bit of earthiness to it.

This recipe comes from the Ivory Favorites cookbook, and has been served at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner for years. This dish is ideal for Thanksgiving because it can be assembled a day ahead, then popped into the oven an hour or so before dinner (these need to be served warm, but not piping hot). These yams are very rich, and, in my experience, the amount listed below will easily feed up to 12 people.

Pecan-Topped Yams

4 cups cooked and mashed yams*
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup-1 cup sugar**
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pecan topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

1) Combine yams with melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
2) Mix well, then pour into a greased 9”x 13” glass dish.
3) Combine brown sugar and flour; mix well.
4) Stir in melted butter and nuts
5) Crumble nut mixture over the top of the yams
6) Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, or until set.

*I cook the yams by cutting them into thirds and steaming them in a pot of hot water with a steamer basket until they are fork tender (usually takes about an hour).
** I know this is a wide range, but the amount of sugar you use depends on how sweet your yams are and how tooth-aching you want the finished product to be. I always add the other ingredients first, then taste and see how much sugar to add. I usually never use more than a half cup even though the recipe calls for a full one.

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