I Ate Sweet Potato Casserole for the First Time and Now I'm Obsessed

My Thanksgiving table will never be the same.

Food Network Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Casserole as seen on Food Network.

Food Network Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Casserole as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©Copyright 2015

Matt Armendariz, Copyright 2015

I want to let you in on a little secret. Up until three days ago, I had never, ever in my life, consumed a sweet potato. Not in the form of a pie, not in the form of a French fry and most-certainly, not in the form of a casserole. It was something that, given where I work, probably should have gotten me stripped of my self-assigned identity as a "foodie." It wasn't so much that I wasn't intrigued by the pointy-eared beauties; they looked simple enough to cook with. But there was something about the concept of adding a sugary crumble topping to starchy potatoes that made me think of the ill-fated meat-trifle made by Rachel Green on Friends.

As a hard-core dessert person, there were certain things I believed did and didn't belong together. Brown sugar and potatoes was one of them. But then, as fate would have it during our last pitch meeting, I got given the task of writing about, none other than, a Sweet Potato Casserole.

After breaking into the potato-sweats for about fifteen minutes, I sat down and asked myself a question diehard Food Network fans have been asking themselves for years: WWIGD? What would Ina Garten do?! And the answer was simple: Ina would buy some good sweet potatoes and she would make the casserole. So, that's exactly what I did.

Get the Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole

On Saturday morning, after downing two cups of pumpkin-spice coffee, I made my way over to my kitchen, and with Food Network's Sweet Potato Casserole recipe in hand, I got to work. The very first thing that struck me about the recipe was just how simple it was. In just three easy steps and with just one baking dish, you were on your way to a Thanksgiving feast. It also didn't require a large amount of additional grocery shopping -- other than the sweet potatoes and pecans, I had all the other ingredients in my pantry.

After clanging around in my closet for the perfect casserole dish, I rolled up my plaid pajama sleeves and started cleaning the sweet potatoes. I'll let you in on another secret, readers -- there's nothing I find more therapeutic than using a potato peeler. There have even been times when my twin sister and I have gotten into verbal spats over who's going to clean vegetables for my mom when she's having people over the house for dinner. Often times, my sister wins...

After getting the potatoes to the perfect mashed consistency, I added in the butter, milk, brown sugar, salt and eggs, whisking as I went along to create a temptingly creamy mixture. Sneaking a surprisingly sumptuous spoonful into my mouth, I scooped the rest of the luscious blend into my casserole dish and began putting together the pecan-crumble topping.

This was the part of the recipe I was most skeptical about, the part that I wasn't 100% sure belonged. To me, crumble toppings were best served on top of three main things: baked overnight French toast, cinnamon-swirl pound cake and muffins, and vanilla-ice-cream-topped apple pie. However, after tasting the potato mixture, my worries slowly began to dissolve. Maybe I had been wrong all along, maybe sweet potatoes and crumble did belong together?

Grabbing a half cup of flour and brown sugar, I added in some salt, butter and pecans and stirred until the topping resembled some of my favorites. Shuffling over to my casserole dish, I plopped and spread the crumble on top in an even layer, set the stove to 350 degrees F and popped the casserole inside. Thirty minutes later, with the toasty aroma of baked pecans filling my nostrils, it was time to dig in.

Scooping out a buttery helping, I sat down at my kitchen table, and after taking several snapshots for my Instagram profile, I grabbed a fork and took my first bite. And then, I took another bite, and another one, and another one, until finally, the only thing left on my plate was a stray bit of pecan. From its buttery, pudding-like consistency to its crispy-crunchy topping, this casserole was unlike anything I had ever eaten before. Not only was it absolutely mouthwatering, but the sweet-savory balance wasn't as overpowering as I feared it was going to be.

As I fished out a second helping for myself, I realized I had just found a new Thanksgiving favorite, one that was now going to be a mandatory dish on my family's Thanksgiving Day menu. Do yourself a favor and add it to yours too!


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