An amazing make ahead side-dish for the upcoming holidays!
Light, creamy, and complex; with undertones of orange and cinnamon, touched with a hint of whiskey, not to mention the sweet pecan praline topping. One of my favorite sides!
I found this recipe many years ago (at least 20!) probably in a magazine, because the internet wasn’t really around then, or Pinterest or food blogs. 😂
All I know is that I’ve made this dish for a couple of decades…and these yams aren’t just for Thanksgiving, make them for Christmas or other special occasions too!
Another reason to love this dish is you can make it ahead and place it in the refrigerator or even freeze it, so it’s done long before the holiday crunch!
The original recipe called for two 2 ½ lb cans of yams or 4 lbs of fresh yams, I’ve always opted for fresh, they don’t take long and it’s so much, well fresher to use fresh! By the way, sweet potatoes are yams and yams are sweet potatoes, at least the red ones we all know and love, we can use them interchangeably!
I love this little scale, it has a “tare” function, meaning you can place anything on top, hit the on/tare button and it will zero out the weight of object on top so you can get an exact weight of the item you are placing in said bowl or dish; should it be liquid, large items or small pieces such as chocolate chips, cranberries or marshmallows.
A large yam is about a pound, but I had a couple of small ones as well. It ended up being a couple of ounces over 4 lbs, it doesn’t need to be exact.
Wash them well, then cut them into thirds or fourths depending on how big the yam is. Cut off the nubby ends.
Toss them into a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil (skip below to prep the rest of the ingredients so they are ready to throw in once the yams have cooked).
Boil until soft, a fork should go right through them – it’ll take about 35-40 minutes depending on how small you cut them up. Start checking at about 20 minutes.
Once soft, drain and allow to cool for about 10 minutes so you can handle them to remove their skins.
Slice through the skin with a knife and gently peel back the skins, discarding them (or save them and give to your dog for dinner! She’ll thank you!)
Toss the peeled yams back into the empty, rinsed out pot.
Now let’s get the rest of the ingredients going, start by zesting your orange, always easier to do this prior to cutting it in half.
Next, juice your orange(s), one medium orange yields about ⅓ of a cup, you’ll need ⅔ of a cup, so either juice another orange, or make up the difference with pure orange juice (no concentrate or fake stuff here).
Mash and whir up the yams with a stand or hand mixer.
Measure out your orange juice and whiskey or you may substitute brandy if preferred. I’ve made it both ways, both are delicious.
TIP: The whiskey or brandy is completely optional, if you prefer to leave it out, leave it out and replace with 2.5 Tablespoons of fresh orange juice.
Pour in your orange juice…
…then slosh in your whiskey or brandy (no nipping or you really will be sloshing!) or if you opted to not put in brandy or whiskey, pour in your additional juice here.
…toss in your orange zest. Things are looking mighty orange around here!
Add your spices; salt, pepper, and ginger
and your brown sugar…
and your melted butter (no substitutes please)…
and finally, 3 egg yolks.
Beat it all with a hand mixer until smooth, creamy and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scrape down sides occasionally.
Butter a 2 quart casserole dish (or split into too smaller oven proof dishes) and yes, use butter for this, we only have these holidays once a year! I put a couple of tablespoons of soft butter in the dish, then use a paper towel to spread it around.
Spoon the yam mixture into the casserole dish and smooth the top. I made two, one for a Friendsgiving dinner this weekend and the other for Thanksgiving!
Now for the praline topping…melt ½ cup (full stick) butter in a small saucepan.
Once melted, stir in the brown sugar until smooth. Remove from heat.
Add your cinnamon and stir in well.
Rough chop your pecans. If desired, line some around the edge of the dish, all perty like. Add your rough chopped pecans to the butter and brown sugar, stir to combine.
Add a pinch of salt. Sorry for the wrinkly hand!
Spoon evenly over the top of the mashed yams.
You can either bake immediately, or refrigerate/freeze until ready to bake. If refrigerating or freezing allow to sit at room temperature for a couple of hours prior to cooking.
Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes until bubbly, let stand for 10 minutes before serving. If needed, cover the top with foil if the top is getting too brown before its hot all the way through.
You can easily cut this recipe in half or as I said earlier, split it into two casserole dishes and double the toppings since you’ll have more surface area.
- MASHED YAMS
- 4 lbs fresh cooked, peeled yams (sweet potatoes) or 2- 2 ½ lb canned yams (but don't do it!)
- zest of one naval orange
- ⅔ cup fresh orange juice (will take about 2 oranges)
- 5 Tablespoons whiskey or brandy (optional, if you don't use, replace with 2.5 TBL of orange juice)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- PRALINE TOPPING
- 1 stick (½ cup) butter, melted
- ⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- pinch of sea salt
- If using fresh yams, wash well, cut into thirds and place in a large pot of cold water.
- Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until soft, about 35-40 minutes, fork should go right through.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes until you can handle them, then slice through skins and peel back discarding skins.
- Or save skins for your doggy, they'll thank you!
- While yams are boiling, prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- Zest your orange, set aside.
- Squeeze your orange to yield ⅔ cup (might be necessary to use two oranges, or make up difference with fresh orange juice (not concentrate or the fake stuff, don't do it, don't even be tempted!)
- Pour your whisky or brandy, set aside. If you prefer not to use in the dish, increase your orange juice by 2.5 Tablespoons.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, set aside.
- Measure your spices (salt, pepper, ginger) into a small dish, set aside.
- Measure your light brown sugar (dark probably fine to use too),
- Separate your egg yolks (reserve) from the whites, throw away and set aside.
- Mash yams using fork, masher or beaters on a hand mixer. Mix using mixer until no longer chunky.
- Add orange juice, orange zest, whisky/brandy, salt, pepper, ginger, melted butter, brown sugar and egg yolks.
- Whip up until light and fluffy using stand or hand mixer, scraping down sides occasionally.
- Butter a 2 quart casserole dish, or if desired, split into two smaller baking dishes. If you do split this up, double or at least 1.5 your praline topping as you'll have more surface area.
- Spread yam mixture evenly into dish, smoothing out the top.
- PRALINE TOPPING
- Melt butter in small saucepan, remove from heat.
- Add brown sugar, cinnamon and salt; stir to combine well.
- Rough chop your pecans and stir into the butter/sugar mixture.
- Carefully spoon praline topping over the top(s) of the yam mixture.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes until hot and bubbly.*
- Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.
- *If not making right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.
- When ready to bake, remove from fridge or freezer at least 1 - 3 hours prior to cooking and place on counter.