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Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole with Black Pepper Marshmallows, Bacon, and Pecans
Growing up, my absolute favorite Thanksgiving dish was sweet potato casserole. I loved the cut sweet potatoes from a Princella can mixed with brown sugar and crushed pineapple and topped with a golden brown and gooey blanket of melted marshmallows. It was a sugar bomb and I couldn’t get enough.
These days, sweet potato casserole is still my favorite. Thanksgiving isn’t the same without it. But the canned goods stay on the shelf and bourbon is often added with a heavy hand. My recipe changes a bit each year and, after a test run this past weekend, I think this year’s version is the best yet. The casserole is still a bit sweet, as any sweet potato dish should be, but is balanced by the smokiness of bourbon and bacon. The potatoes are silky and rich from butter and cream while roasted pecans and crispy bacon provide texture. Then there are the marshmallows and this year, they steal the show. They’re made with smoked porter, freshly ground black pepper, and flaky sea salt; the flavor combination is unexpected, but not overwhelming, and perfectly complements the sweet and savory casserole like no commercial marshmallow can.
The best part? Everything can be made in advance leading to a less stressful Thanksgiving. Just don’t expect leftovers from this recipe.
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted*
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 thick slices smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4″ pieces
*Up to half (4 tablespoons) of the melted butter can be substituted 1-to-1 with rendered bacon fat for a smokier sweet potato mash.
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Place sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast, turning once, until soft, about 30 to 45 minutes. Alternatively, fill a large pot with water and season with salt. Add sweet potatoes and maintain a simmer until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes; drain potatoes.
While potatoes cook, place bacon in a small, cold pan over medium low heat and cook, turning often, until crispy. Transfer bacon pieces to a papertowel to absorb excess oil.
Set oven temperature to 350ºF. Place potatoes in a large bowl or pot and mash to desired consistency. Add brown sugar, butter, cream, porter, molasses, bourbon, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and eggs; mix until well combined. Pour mixture into a 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Top with pecans and marshmallows. Bake on center rack until filling is hot and marshmallows are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 14 minute before serving. Top with bacon pieces.