Sweet potatoes covered with little marshmallows never adorned my family’s Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table. My mom’s ‘candied’ sweet potatoes did make an appearance every year. Coated in brown sugar and I’m not really sure what else. Too sweet for me. But sweet potatoes I do love. I think my favorite way is just baked and smothered in butter and salt. There’s something about that sweet/salty combination. Sooo Yummy.
As I started holding Thanksgiving dinner at our home more and more, I wanted to include sweet potatoes but wasn’t sure the best option. The restaurant my husband’s company Christmas party is held makes sweet potato au gratin. I was a little skeptical, but it is really good! Then I saw a recipe somewhere that I tried one year and it was a ton of steps. No thanks. So this is a lighter version of the two of those combined. I have been serving it for the past several years and seems to always be a hit.
Sweet Potato AuGratin
This recipe makes one 8×8 square pan, just double it if you are serving a huge crowd. 3 medium size sweet potatoes (for our actual meal this year, I got some purple and some orange and will alternate layers of colors – just for fun!)
2 medium to large yellow onions
1 can light coconut milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
5 TBSP butter
If you have a mandolin now this is the dish to use it for. I do not have one, I cut everything by hand in these photos. Sometimes if I’m really fortunate, my neighbor let’s me borrow hers! It is a lot of slicing, just get the potatoes and onions as thinly sliced as possible. If cutting by hand, I find it easiest to cut the potato in half then in half again so they lay flat and your slices are semi-circles.
Peel and slice your sweet potatoes.
Thinly slice your onions and place in a saute pan with some olive oil on medium low and saute until very soft and translucent. Once they are super soft and golden brown in color, add 1 TBSP of butter, the nutmeg and cayenne pepper. If you don’t like things too spicy use 1/4 tsp – no spice leave it out and use black pepper.
Give your dish a light spray of non-stick spray or coat with butter. Start layering your potatoes in a thin layer, then add some of the onions, a few dollops of butter, salt and pepper to each layer. Repeat this process until you use up all the ingredients. Depending on the size of the potatoes you may have to press them down. Sometimes I have too many and sometimes it’s just shy of the top of the pan.
Once all your layers are done, pour the coconut milk in – down the side as to not wash all your seasonings to the bottom. The milk should come up about half way.
Bake at 350 for about an hour. Bake covered. When you take it out of the oven let it sit for about 15-20 minutes to allow it to set a little.
*prep ahead tip – you can half bake the day before, then refrigerate overnight. Set out to get up to room temperature then finish baking for about 20 minutes.
What a great idea to lighten up a Thanksgiving favorite! I’m going to give this a try soon.