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Thanksgiving Week – Spiced Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Streusel

It’s Thanksgiving Week here at The Gourmand Mom. We’re gradually working our way through a full Thanksgiving menu; the bird, the sides, and the sweets. Hopefully, as we make our way through the feast, you’ll find a little something which works for you, whether you’re preparing the whole meal for a large crowd or bringing a dish or dessert to share. Yesterday, we took a look at an Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy. Today, we’re moving on to my favorite part; the side dishes. The best part is that all of my side dish ideas can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, which gives you more time to enjoy your family and friends (or the game) on Turkey Day.

We’re starting with a sweet potato puree. I’ve been making some variation of these sweet potatoes for as long as I’ve been cooking a Thanksgiving meal. They’re spicy, they’re sweet, they’re practically a dessert. The base is always the same; sweet potatoes, slow-roasted to develop maximum sweetness, pureed until smooth, sweetened with a bit of maple syrup, then spiced with a generous amount of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. The topping varies from year to year. This year, I’m going with a crumbly pecan streusel topping. For a less sweet alternative, buttered pecans, toasted with cinnamon and cayenne, add the perfect crunch and kick of spice. And it’s hard to go wrong with toasted mini marshmallows (for the kid in all of us).

Spiced Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Streusel

Ingredients

For the Sweet Potatoes:

  • 5 large Sweet Potatoes or Yams
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 stick Butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg

For the Pecan Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Pecans, coarse chopped
  • 1/2 stick Butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes and pierce the skins several times with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until very tender. Allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the potato and discard the skins. Puree the sweet potatoes until smooth. Stir in the melted butter and syrup. Add the syrup a little at a time to reach your desired level of sweetness. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Spoon the puree into a baking dish.

To prepare the streusel, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans in a bowl. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until well-combined. The mixture should be crumbly. Scatter the streusel over the sweet potatoes. The entire dish can be prepared to this point ahead of time and refrigerated. When ready to reheat, place in a 350-375 degrees oven for about 30 minutes, or until well-heated through.

As an alternative to the streusel topping, try toasting a cup of pecan halves in a pan with a little butter, cinnamon, and a dash of cayenne.

Serves about 8


Smoked Salmon Potatoes Au Gratin

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I’ve got a tasty little twist on potatoes au gratin for you today. Typically, potatoes au gratin is composed of thinly sliced potatoes, baked in seasoned cream until it’s hot, bubbly, and delicious. Sometimes, cheeses such as gruyere or cheddar are added for a super yummy flavor and an extra golden crust. Potatoes au gratin makes a really delicious side dish and works great for large groups and dinner parties.

There’s a passionate love triangle going on in my little twist on potatoes au gratin. You see, I decided to throw in some smoked salmon. Well, smoked salmon and cream cheese are sort of madly in love with other, so I added some cream cheese too. Turns out that cream cheese has also got a little thing for potatoes. And don’t tell the cream cheese, but I swear I saw the potatoes winking at the salmon. The result is a harmonious marriage of flavors; creamy, savory, and thoroughly satisfying.

Smoked Salmon Potatoes Au Gratin

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds Russet Potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 ounces Smoked Salmon, chopped
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) Cream Cheese, chilled and chopped into small pieces
  • 3 Green Onions, sliced
  • 2 cups Half and Half
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use the side of a knife to smash the garlic clove. Rub the cracked clove of garlic on the sides and bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. Then, rub the inside of the baking dish with butter. Arrange about a third of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish. Scatter 1/2 of the cream cheese, salmon, and green onions on top. Arrange another layer of potatoes. Scatter with the remaining cream cheese, green onions, and salmon. Top with the remaining potatoes. In a bowl, whisk together the half and half with the salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the potatoes. Push down gently on the potatoes to ensure that the top layer is lightly covered with the half and half. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Approximately every 15 minutes, use a spatula or spoon to push down on the top layer to moisten it with the cream and prevent it from drying out.

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