Thanksgiving still seems a long way away, but that didn’t stop me from test-driving a Thanksgiving side dish from Martha Stewart Living (Nov issue), Sweet Potato and Sage-Butter Casserole. I am a big potato fan. I must admit I have not cooked a lot with sweet potatoes. First of all, I find there is some confusion about them. A lot of people refer to yams as sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a separate item, with a whiter flesh than yams. Since I’m assuming Martha knows the difference, I used actual sweet potatoes, not yams for this (although I think a lot of people make yams for Thanksgiving and call them sweet potatoes, so I don’t know what she was doing).
This dish is really very easy to make and it’s possible to assemble it and then stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to make it, so in that sense it is a convenient thing for Thanksgiving.
First you boil the potatoes. Martha says to boil the sweet potatoes and the Yukon Gold potatoes together, but I found the sweet potatoes cooked faster. If you make this, I recommend boiling them separately.
Next you’re supposed to rice your potatoes. I don’t have a ricer. I tried a couple of alternatives. First, I tried to press them through a strainer. That did not go very well. It took a lot of effort to get any to go through. I gave up on that. Then I had the idea of using the grater attachment for my Cuisinart. It wasn’t a bad substitute, but some of the potato didn’t go through and sort of sat on the blade all mushy. Next I tried using a pastry cutter. That worked the best. It may not have been exactly like a ricer, but I think it was pretty close.
There aren’t many other ingredients – butter, milk, sage, salt and pepper and some breadcrumbs for the top. I got it all together and then baked it for about 35 minutes.
As for taste, I would much rather have regular mashed potatoes than this, but I can see how this would a nice dish to make for a big Thanksgiving dinner where you need to get things done in advance. It was a little bland and boring and I’m not sure I would want to put gravy on it. No one in the family was wild about it at all, so I won’t be making this again. Now, that being sad, it wasn’t a bad dish, just something that was not really to our liking.