Nana's Sweet Potato Casserole with Sorghum
From chef Tandy Wilson of City House; Nashville, Tennessee
“In a Southern family, there’s always someone who makes one dish, one thing they’re truly great at,” Wilson says. “These recipes tend to be ‘talked,’ passed down from cook to cook.” That’s the case with the chef’s favorite sweet potato casserole, a dish inherited from his grandmother. Instead of the standard marshmallow topping, the recipe uses quintessentially Southern ingredients—peanuts and sorghum syrup, which is considered the maple syrup of the South. “I spent many days and nights at the countertop in my grandmother’s home, watching her cook, and over time, I developed a relationship with her dishes,” Wilson says. “Now every year it’s my job to make Nana’s sweet potato casserole. Someday I will be making it for my own children.”
7 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 12 medium or 5 extra large), about 10 cups
¼ cup sorghum syrup
½ lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into small pieces while cold and slightly softened at room temperature
1½ tbsp. coarse salt
½ cup sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ lb. unsalted butter (1 stick), diced and used while still cold
2 cups whole shelled peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. coarse salt
²/³ cup sorghum syrup
Roast potatoes until tender throughout, 1½ to 2 hours. (You can roast the potatoes on a bed of coarse salt to eliminate scorching, which can discolor the final product.)
When they’re cool enough to handle, peel away skin and place sweet potato pulp in large mixing bowl.
Using a potato masher, smash remaining ingredients together with the sweet potato pulp until smooth.
Transfer to lightly buttered shallow ovenproof casserole dish (such as a 9 x 12–inch with about 2½-inch depth).
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Mix all ingredients except sorghum by hand until butter chunks are pea size. (You are looking for streusel-like topping here.)
Evenly distribute over top of sweet potato mixture and bake in 350˚F oven until crisp and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Transfer baking dish to cooling rack, and drizzle casserole with sorghum, using a crosshatch pattern.
Let sorghum sink into topping for a few minutes before serving.
“I believe in commonsense cooking, doing the best you can with what’s in front of you”—Tandy Wilson