Is it really almost Thanksgiving?! I’m sure we all feel the same way about 2020: CONFUSED. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2021. 😂
Although Thanksgiving will be a little different this year, it doesn’t have to be any less delicious! My husband and I have a tradition of going to St. Barts on Thanksgiving, so I usually don’t make a huge feast on Thanksgiving day. Instead, I make a pre-Thanksgiving meal for my husband’s family, which I’m doing today! There will only be eight of us this year, but as long as I get to see family I’ll be happy. We all need a little extra loving these days!!
The Thanksgiving dishes of my Texan youth may not have been fancy, but they remain some of my favorite holiday recipes. Growing up, my mother made it look like a breeze to put out a delicious holiday spread. Though I grew up to become a chef and caterer, I learned that dinner for 20 is NEVER a breeze, even as a professional. How did my mother do it without breaking a sweat?!
After far too many holiday panic attacks, I finally asked for her secret to making the most simple dishes possible. My mom told me “With minimal ingredients and day-of prep.” Why didn’t I think of that?! Her ultimate holiday secret weapon were her Secret Ingredient Sweet Potatoes — a dish I continue to make to this day.
To be honest, I had no idea what the secret ingredient was until she told me. The flavor is hardly noticeable if you aren’t expecting it! Back in the day (when you could find it) she used pineapple-orange juice concentrate. Today, I use fresh orange and pineapple, but the same flavors are still there. I love to watch people taste this dish. Their eyes squint as they try to figure it out. Regardless, everyone agrees: these sweet potatoes are absolutely divine. Creamy, sweet, and perfectly bright – I can’t get enough of them!
Because I’m a sucker for nostalgia, I serve these potatoes just as my Mom did. Sure, it might be corny and old-fashioned, but I love it! Adorable scooped-out orange halves and bruleed marshmallows take me right back to my childhood.
I’d love for you to make this incredibly unique dish for your holiday spread and let it become a part of your family’s tradition too. You’ll be shocked at how easy they are. Enjoy!
- 5 pounds (4 or 5 large) sweet potatoes
- 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 4 oranges, sliced in half and flesh scooped out
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 regular-sized (not mini) marshmallows, cut in half horizontally, or toasted chopped nuts, optional
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 ½ hours.
- Remove from the oven and cool. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F.
- While the potatoes are baking, add the pineapple, orange zest, and the flesh of two oranges to a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth.
- Peel the baked potatoes, discarding the skin. Place them into the food processor or blender with the orange mixture, as well as adding in the brown sugar, butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Puree into smooth.
- Divide the mixture evenly amongst orange halves. Bake for 20 minutes, then take out of the oven and set to broil at 350°F.
- Place 3 marshmallow halves on top of each orange cup and broil for 30 seconds, or until nicely toasted.
Here’s a SNEAK PEEK of my Thanksgiving Menu
Apple Cider Ginger Cocktail
Smoked Salmon on Toasts w/ Capers and Pickled Onions
Smoky Pumpkin Soup with Cashew Cream and Sage
Dry-Brined Local Hamptons Turkey with Rosemary, Sage, and Orange
Secret Ingredient Sweet Potatoes
Cornbread, Mushroom, and Pecan Stuffing
Bitter Greens with Toasted Hazelnuts, Pomegranate, Gorgonzola
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Walnut Butter
Cranberry-Cherry Conserve with Orange
Panettone Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream
I hope that you can all find some way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Even if you can’t get home for the holidays, whip up a batch of my Secret Ingredient Sweet Potatoes and share them with your friends, neighbors, roommates, or anyone else that’s looking for a little comfort food this season.
Like always, I love to see your thoughts and hear your questions in the comments section below. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram here @pamflavors and @flirtingwithflavors. Keep an eye out for our gift guide and our Black Friday deals coming for Zoom cooking parties! Stay healthy and safe out there. Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🥧🍗
Pamela, my mother , born in Texas, had a very similar recipe. She also brought used mandarin oranges cut and folded into the mashed yams. The best. And yes, I make it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your recipe looks delicious.