13 March 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Dinner Past

The following occurred on 25 December 2007.

Christmas dinner in my family usually consists of the same foods. Why? They are familiar holiday foods that we only make on major holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). It's what my family and I look forward to. We also tend to make the exact same comments about each dish, each year.

"Candied sweet potatoes really are just a pie filling, sans crusts." Says my mom.

"That's why it shouldn't be sweet. It should be savory." Replies my dad.

These rolls were made from a different recipe, I think. Or perhaps not. I can't remember if I forgot to make them the night before and I made a regular recipe, or if I used the standard refrigerated-overnight recipe. Hm.

This is one of my brother's favorite dish, green bean casserole.

This is the aforementioned candied sweet potato casserole (recipe at end of post) with walnut topping. We usually make a traditional marshmallow topping, but we didn't have any marshmallows. That ended up being a good thing because we might not have tried this otherwise. The directions for the sweet potatoes is our recipe of choice, as it's simple, can be made on the stove, and can be made ahead of time. A huge bonus to speed up the cooking on that day.

The turkey. I know we cooked it in a turkey bag, but memory fails me as to what we cooked it in. I'm somewhat certain that it was in the oven instead of the turkey roaster this time.

From top, clockwise, bread dressing (made with homemade bread), a bit of green bean casserole, a roll, turkey with homemade gravy, and candied sweet potatoes.

Roll innards! Soft, fluffy, with a nice chewy crust and granules of kosher salt to add a burst of flavor.

I remember watching a show, it may have been the Sunday Morning show on CBS, and a guy had a tip for holiday eating:
"The first time around, put about a tablespoon of whatever interests you on your plate. Doing so allows you to really figure out what you want instead of eating a double-portion of what you didn't really care for after all."
I didn't quite do that this time, but in the past this tip has really helped to cut down on the lethargic feeling I would get post-meal, because even though I was eating a serving size, the richness of the dish was more than most foods I normally eat. I find that when I eat a bit of what I really want, I don't have to eat as much to feel satiated. That also helps when it comes time for marathon dish washing. ^,^

Candied Sweet Potato Casserole
from America's Test Kitchen

For a more intense molasses flavor, us dark brown sugar (Me: we usually use dark brown sugar) in place of light brown sugar. To make ahead, follow the recipe through step 2. refrigerate the sweet potato mixture in a large microwave-safe bowl, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, for up to 20 hours. When ready to bake, poke several vent holes in the plastic wrap covering the potatoes and microwave on medium-high power until hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Continue to assemble and bake the casserole as directed in steps 3 and 4.

Serves 10 to 12

Sweet Potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ½ cup water

Pecan Topping
  • 2 cups pecan halves (Me: we used walnuts)

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

  • Pinch ground cumin (Me: we didn't use either ground cumin or cayenne pepper)

1. For the Sweet Potatoes: Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven (Me: we use a large, deep skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of the center of the potatoes with very little resistance), 45 to 60 minutes.

2. When the sweet potatoes are tender, remove the lid and bring the sauce to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced to a glaze, 7 to 10 minutes.

3. For the Topping: Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the topping together in a medium bowl; set aside.

4. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450˚. Pour the potato mixture into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish (or shallow casserole dish of similar size). Spread the topping over the potatoes. Bake until the pecans are toasted and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately (Me: it can sit for a few minutes if you have any last-minute preparations for other stuff).


Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your thoughts are appreciated! ^,^


Blogger Template Created by pipdig