These Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes are a total knockout – just the right amount of creamy sweetness and a little bit of crunch.
We made these Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes as part of a show called “Outrageous Thanksgiving” on the Food Network. I was managing a catering company at the time, and got a call from the California Sweet Potato Board asking if we could make the largest sweet potato casserole ever created in a week. That was one of those “say yes now, figure it out later” moments for sure.
The first issue was finding something to hold it – it turns out 10-foot long serving dishes that will hold a half-ton of food are hard to come by. Thank goodness my friend Mikey owns a construction company – when I tell you Wil-Mac Construction can build ANYTHING, I really mean it.
Then we had to plan the recipe, which was no short order. The Sweet Potato folks wanted to show off how delicious the spuds are without marshmallows, and the Food Network still wanted the casserole to have an authentic Thanksgiving feel. So, I decided we’d make the casserole in three parts: Marshmallow Rosemary, Butter Pecan (with California pecans, butter and olive oil, naturally) and Gingersnap Cranberry Crumble. When we served the dish to the hungry crowd, they liked the two versions without marshmallows best. I do too.
In addition to the catering crew, the amazing family from Rosenthal Olive Ranch cooked up the casserole with us and contributed several gallons of their incredible estate-grown California olive oil to the effort. If you’d like to score some of my favorite olive oil from some of my favorite people, go here.
Of course this is an ideal Thanksgiving side, but I promise these Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes are fabulous anytime. Also, if you ever need to brulee sugar and marshmallows for 2000 people, I can get you a sweet deal on an industrial-sized food-grade propane torch.
8 medium sweet potatoes (5 lbs.)
2-3 TBSP olive oil
coarse sea salt
3 TBSP butter, melted
3 TBSP brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c. pecan pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel the sweet potatoes and quarter lengthwise, then cut into cubes about 1/2 inch thick.
Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on two baking sheets. Toss the potatoes with olive oil and season with sea salt.
Cook both sheets until potatoes are tender, tossing occasionally, 25-30 minutes.
Stir the melted butter, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Spread the pecan evenly over the sweet potatoes, and then drizzle the butter and sugar mixture over the top. Return to the oven and bake until butter mixture is beginning to bubble and pecans are toasted, about 8-10 minutes.
Toss the potatoes together in a large bowl and check for seasoning, add more salt if needed. Serve immediately.
To make ahead: bake the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and salt, then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, warm the potatoes on slighty greased sheet pans for 5 minutes, then proceed with recipe.
photos by James Collier
Recipe inspired by: marthastewart.com