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Sweet side dish

Sweet potato casserole is a food found on many holiday tables. The brightly colored marshmallow-topped dish is always a big hit, which isn't too surprising because it's a dish that allows you to eat sugar for dinner.

Orange slices are candied with a mixture of brown sugar and water. (Grand Forks Herald photo by Jessica Karley Rerick)
Orange slices are candied with a mixture of brown sugar and water. (Grand Forks Herald photo by Jessica Karley Rerick)

Sweet potato casserole is a food found on many holiday tables. The brightly colored marshmallow-topped dish is always a big hit, which isn't too surprising because it's a dish that allows you to eat sugar for dinner.

Today, I'm going to share two different versions. One will be for a classic Maple and Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole, and the second has a little more complexity with fresh ginger, ground nutmeg, brown sugar and burnt candied oranges.

Whichever recipe you choose, here are a few tips to help you make the perfect sweet potato side dish:

• Precook your sweet potatoes a day ahead of time or use a crockpot to save space in the oven. Bake your washed sweet potatoes with the skin on at 400 degrees for 60 minutes. If you're using a slow cooker, place your still-wet, skin-on potatoes in the crockpot on low for 7 to 10 hours or until tender.

• Once cooked, remove the flesh from the potatoes and discard the skins. For both of these recipes, you can leave the potatoes as chunky as you want because they will break down more during the next cooking process. I prefer a slightly lumpy potato casserole over one that has been blended smooth.

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• Use the turkey's resting time for baking your side dishes. I let my 22- to 24-pound turkey rest for 35 to 45 minutes before carving to help ensure the juices have settled in the meat and won't be lost on the carving board.

• Think outside of the oven and use the microwave to reheat your casserole. Then, you just can use the oven right at the end to brown the oranges or marshmallows.

Brown Sugar and Burnt Orange Sweet Potatoes are made by combining a glaze made with brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger with tender, baked sweet potatoes. The potato mixture is topped with candied oranges and placed in a 500-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the oranges have started to turn dark brown and slightly black in spots. I honestly don't know which part of this dish is my favorite, the burnt candied oranges or the potatoes. Either way, this is a dish you'll want to serve time and time again.

Brown Sugar and Burnt Orange Sweet Potatoes

4 large sweet potatoes, baked, peeled and cut into one-inch cubes

½ cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

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½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in greased casserole dish. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook just until sugar is dissolved. Pour glaze over the sweet potatoes and bake for 25 minutes or until heated through. (Alternatively, you can microwave for 6 minutes.) Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Top the sweet potatoes with candied orange slices and bake for 10 minutes or just until the oranges have turned dark brown and blackened in some areas. Remove from the oven and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Candied Orange Slices

1 orange (sliced as thinly as possible)

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½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

Directions: In a medium saute pan, combine brown sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and line the pan with orange slices. Flip the oranges occasionally to make sure all the oranges get coated in the syrup. Let the oranges continue to cook until the syrup becomes very thick, most of the orange flesh has dissolved and the rinds look candied.

Maple and Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes

4 large sweet potatoes (baked, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)

5 tablespoons butter

¾ cup pure maple syrup

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Large marshmallows, half bag

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in a greased casserole dish and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine butter, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Heat over low heat until butter is melted. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes and stir until coated. Bake for 20 minutes. Top the sweet potatoes with large-sized marshmallows. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown.

Related Topics: FOOD
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