Holiday Sweet Potato (no, not yam) Recipes

photo from NC Sweet Potato Commission

photo from NC Sweet Potato Commission

Okey dokey. Let’s clear this up before we go any further: What is called “yam” in the US is not a yam – it is a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes and yams are not even related or even part of the same family. Yes, both are tubers, yes, both are sweet, both are flowering vines. But…

YAM: grown in Africa, Asia and the Carbbean. It has a thicker skin and some of those pups can grow to be seven feet in length! Yams are starchier, drier, paler interior, darker exterior, must be cooked to be eaten safely, firmer textured, lower in beta carotene and Vitamin C. The yam is part of the lily family.

Sweet Potato: Grown in the Southern US, has tapered ends, flesh can range from white to deep orange, moister, thin skinned, and is a member of the morning glory family. There is a purple variety grown in Okinawa, however. What is called “yam” in the US is actually – Sweet Potato!!! So, no more candied yams, baked yams, fried yams. Unless of course you have been to a specialty grocery and specifically bought a yam imported from the Caribbean, Asia, or Africa.

The Recipes: Cornwallis Yams, er, Sweet Potatoes. I don’t think General Cornwallis ever had this dish or a yam and haven’t a clue as to why this ridiculous name was given to this recipe. But, it is one delicious and rich casserole. It could be considered dessert but it is a side dish typically served during the Holidays. Both of these are standard recipes and came from handwritten recipe cards from my Grandma Ninny’s recipe box and have been part of our family celebrations since Ninny was a baby.  Sweet Potato Pie is a Southern Classic. You folk can have all the pumpkin pie you want, most of us in the South will take Sweet Potato Pie, thank y’all very much.

I did a Christmas post a couple of seasons ago about sweet potato pie, family, and honoring those who have passed before. Here is the link: a true Christmas-story   I am link challenged and it probably won’t work but the name of the post is The Smell of Home – a True Christmas Story.  You can also search under sweet potato.  I hope y’all enjoy.

Cornwallis Sweet Potato Casserole
6 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon
ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup grated coconut, plus some for garnish (I use the frozen, unsweetened grated rather than the sweetened coconut in a bag or can)
1 1/2 cups milk
½ c. chopped pecans (optional)

Boil sweet potatoes until softened. Peel and mash. Season with cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter.  Beat eggs and add to cooled potatoes. Combine with remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch or 3-quart casserole. Bake in a 350 oven until light brown, about 1 hour. Top with a sprinkle of coconut.

Sweet Potato Pie
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves or mace
2 tbs. orange juice
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1 – 2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) package frozen deep-dish piecrusts, thawed
Garnishes: whipped cream, grated nutmeg

Cook sweet potato in boiling water to cover 30 minutes or until tender; drain .Beat sweet potato and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, orange juice, peel, and spices, beating well. Pour mixture evenly into each piecrust. Bake at 350° on lower oven rack for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Garnish, if desired.


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. smilecalm
    Nov 12, 2014 @ 11:43:38

    as soon as it’s ready
    i’ll be over 🙂


  2. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Nov 12, 2014 @ 17:23:02

    I had the same idea. What time is good to arrive? Can I bring something? Thought I’d try it at your house first. Not keep on sweet anything much. Looks like a real pie though… ❤ ❤


  3. Kev
    Nov 15, 2014 @ 12:37:05

    I’ve had both Yam and Sweet Potato in the states and they are delicious. However, quite different in taste and texture. 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      Nov 15, 2014 @ 13:50:58

      Exactly. Very different but too often over here, people say yam I when they are speaking of sweet potatoes. I’ve read a lot of food history, especially when I was in culinary school. I actually had a chef instructor who backed from saying yam incorrectly and frequently. She gave us a whole lesson about the correct usage and origin. I can tell you, we were all impressed by it and I know all these years later,, it is one of the lessons that has stayed with me. She actually worked under one of my heroes, Edna Lewis, which impressed me even more. You always are so pen and curious about things, look her up sometime. As you have lived in the States and think, Kentucky? I think you would enjoy.

      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®|PRO


  4. bkpyett
    Nov 16, 2014 @ 03:36:59

    Happy Birthday Kanzen! I’m glad M-R cooked you a birthday cake! I do like the sound of your sweet potato pie too. All good wishes for a wonderful year ahead! from Australian, Barbara.


  5. moorezart
    Nov 16, 2014 @ 12:13:08

    Now I know the reason we are kindred spirits, My BDay is Nov 19th! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!


  6. moorezart
    Nov 16, 2014 @ 12:14:48

    Well I DO KNOW the diff between Yams and Sweet Potatos although apparently very few grocers do anymore. When I go to find Sweet Potatos they always point me to yams and when I explain I get a “deer in the headlight” stare! THANK YOU For this recipe…now if I can only find some Sweet Potatos!!


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