Thanksgiving Makeover Continued: Elizabeth Karmel’s Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash

Next in our week of Thanksgiving makeovers is Elizabeth Karmel’s Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash, her answer to the treacly marshmallow-topped Sweet Potato Casserole. And since I prefer my sweet for dessert, I’m so behind her plan to dramatically lower the sugar and lose the marshmallows.

Raised on BBQ in North Carolina and currently the executive chef of Hill Country Barbeque and NY’s Hill Country Chicken, Elizabeth is the perfect person to reinterpret this classic Thanksgiving side.

She says double-cooking the potatoes—oven roasting them first and then mashing them right in the pot with highly flavorful ingredients (including a generous snort of bourbon)—results in a creamy, craveable dish you can enjoy at the holiday table… and year round.

She suggests looking for Garnet sweet potatoes for this dish. They may be labeled yams, but they’re the ones that are either oval or cylindrical with tapered ends and bright yellow-orange flesh. You can bake the potatoes the day before and prepare the “mash” the next day.

To save time, Elizabeth says to substitute 2 cans (40 ounces each) sweet potatoes packed in light syrup, drained, for the baked sweet potatoes. And if you’re looking to save a few calories, you can substitute evaporated milk for the cream and reduce butter to 2 tablespoons stirred in just before serving.

Another irresistible Thanksgiving dish from another very savvy chef.

Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash
Serves: Makes a scant 6 cups serving 8 to 10
  • 4 large (12 to 14 ounces each) Garnet sweet potatoes, pricked all over with a fork
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup each: bourbon, dark brown sugar, and molasses
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 dashes hot red pepper sauce, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes on a large foil-lined baking sheet and bake until fork-tender, about 1 hour. When cool to the touch, peel and quarter the potatoes. (Can be covered and refrigerated overnight.)
  2. Place potatoes, cream, butter, bourbon, sugar, molasses and salt in small Dutch oven or soup kettle; mash ingredients together with a large fork or potato masher.  Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, reduce heat to low and cook, covered and stirring frequently, until potatoes are soft and thick, about 30 minutes Stir in pepper sauce and nutmeg, adjust seasonings, and serve.


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  1. KarenR says

    This has been a staple side dish for Thanksgiving, Easter and other get togethers since I found this recipe in 2011. It’s great! Thanks for sharing.

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