So I have this thing about Thanksgiving.
This thing being that I am all about the traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu. I know that may seem like a shock, since I post all kinds of crazy, non-traditional recipes, but when it comes to both Thanksgiving and Christmas I am all about tradition. And the older the traditions the better.
They just keep things so simple and perfect every time.
Every year though, I try to create at least one new and fun dish for the table. It doesn’t normally get eaten by anyone other than mom, dad and myself though because the people I get to feed for Thanksgiving only care about the four basics, turkey, gravy, mashers and rolls. They skip anything packed with nutritional value, anything with nuts and basically anything that is not pale in color, ladened with butter and meat heavy. So I go crazy simple with the turkey, gravy, mashers and rolls, but the vegetable sides and casseroles are where I have a little fun…
So I have a confession.
I have never, not once, cooked a Thanksgiving turkey. I do all the sides + desserts, but mom handles the turkey. I really have no desire to change this because one, mom’s turkey is alway perfect and two, I don’t want to be the one to ruin the main event… I will gladly leave that up to my mom. But I gotta say, she really has the turkey thing down. Not once has she burned a turkey. Give her a loaf bread or rolls? She’ll burn them almost every time, but put her in charge of the turkey and she’ll cook it to golden perfection.
I can’t believe how fast the holidays are creeping up on us. It’s scary. Asher has totally skipped Thanksgiving and moved on to Christmas… which I sometimes love (like now when it has been snowing the entire day – well over a foot of new snow with more expected!), but sometimes hate, because I am not ready to skip ahead yet. You should see our house, there are those window gel/sticky things they sell at Target on our windows. Asher has Rudolph up on her nightstand, a reindeer on the fire-place mantel, and the best part?? The outdoor Santa Clause that we inherited when we moved. She actually has him inside and acting as her husband because she is now Mrs. Clause. And guys, she means business. She wore her red sweater dress with a little white belt and pretended to feed Santa the cookies I made the other day.
It’s safe to say the girl has a pretty awesome imagination.
And sense of style, she looked so stinkin’ cute in her little Mrs. Clause outfit.
Back to Thanksgiving though, since we are exactly two weeks away from the big day. I could not be more exited, are you? Do you already have your menu set? I kind of hope not because I still have a few recipes I want to share with you before it’s official Turkey time. Starting with this sweet potato casserole.
I love sweet potato casserole and even though the boys never go near it, I still make it every year. My grandma has the most simple, most perfect recipe that I may share with you next year. It’s so good that I am saving it for the perfect time. I know, mean and crazy. But her recipe is so classic. These sweet potatoes are a tad similar to her classic, but kicked up a notch… because um bacon. Bacon turns these sweet potatoes into Thanksgiving side dish awesomeness. I mean, how could they not?
They are basically like candied bacon and pecans with buttery, brown sugar sweet potatoes… oh, and some bourbon too, because bourbon, bacon and pecans are the perfect match. Plus, it’s Thanksgiving and if there is one day to go all out, it is surely Thanksgiving!
Like most sweet potato casseroles, this bourbon sweet potato casserole is so simple and easy, plus you may even have everything on hand to make this right now for a little pre-Thanksgiving feasting. <–DO IT.
Aside from the time to cook the sweet potatoes this comes together so fast, and if you are really running low on time, feel free to use canned sweet potato puree, you’ll need about three cups. BUT I think it’s best to use fresh sweet potatoes, the flavor is always so much better.
The bacon pecan topping is kind of amazing though. It’s sweet and savory with a little crunch from the pecans and saltiness from the bacon. I also added sage and a little rosemary. We all loved the addition of sage, but my dad was not fond of the rosemary. I personally am all for it, but if rosemary is not your thing or you are worried it may overpower the other flavors for you, just leave it out.
OH, and did I mention that you can prepare the whole dish in advance and then just pop it in the oven before dinner? It’s the best way to go about making Thanksgiving side dishes – makes life so much easier.
Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole with Sweet ‘n’ Savory Bacon Pecans.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons bourbon optional
Sweet ‘n’ Savory Bacon Pecans
- 6 slices thick cut bacon chopped
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour use gluten free if needed
- 1 1/2 cups raw pecans roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup salted butter melted
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, slice them in half and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Next, add the brown sugar, flour, pecans, butter, cayenne, sage and rosemary (if using) to a bowl and mix to combine. Stir in the fried bacon.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Peel the skins away from the flesh of the sweet potato and add the sweet potato to a mixing bowl. Mash well. Mix in the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, milk, butter, eggs and bourbon until fully combined.
Pour the sweet potatoes into a greased casserole dish (I used an oval). Spread the pecan topping over top of the sweet potatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pecans are golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
Um but really, this topping is AMAZING. <–Caps are obviously necessary.