Serious Eats’ Sweet Potato Casserole (Recipe Review)

Serious Eats is one of my go-to sites when I’m looking for recipes for classic dishes. It’s home to my favorite green bean casseroleso when I was testing sweet potato casseroles I thought I’d take a look there and see what they had to offer.

Like most Serious Eats recipes, every step in the process is thoughtfully written. The sweet potatoes’ natural sweetness is maximized through slow roasting, then tempered by various savory mix-ins like browned butter and fresh herbs. As someone who often finds sweet potato dishes too sweet, I was intrigued.

Get the recipe: Serious Eats Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallows

How do you make the Serious Eats sweet potato casserole with marshmallows?

This recipe starts by slow roasting whole sweet potatoes in a low oven at 300°F. The idea is that the low temperature allows the natural enzymes to break down the complex starches into simple sugars. The recipe also allows for the whole sweet potatoes to be sous-vided for two to four hours and then broiled for an additional two hours to maximize the enzymatic process. I decided to stick with roasting to keep it simpler since I had so many recipes at once.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, fry a piece of butter nutty. Fresh thyme and/or sage is added, which gives the butter even more flavour.

After the sweet potatoes have finished cooking, they are peeled, added to the bowl of a stand mixer, and then whipped with fresh ginger, the seasoned brown butter, and a little sour cream. Everything is transferred to a frying pan and fried until heated through. Once that’s done, fire up the oven, line the roasting pan with mini marshmallows, and bake until the marshmallows are toasted.

My honest review of Serious Eats sweet potato casserole with marshmallows

This was my front runner going into the competition so I was really surprised when it was clearly the least favorite on the table.

For starters, I had trouble roasting the potatoes. The recipe calls for six pounds of sweet potatoes, which the recipe says should be six large sweet potatoes. Mine were a bit bigger so I ended up with five sweet potatoes. I wrapped them in foil as directed, but when I went to check them after two hours as instructed, they weren’t tender in the center. I let them go for another 45 minutes, and even then the biggest one was only just done. (The more tapered ends were quite soft, though.)

The rest of the filling was pretty simple. The brown butter smelled wonderful and I chose to use all sage as I feel it is the quintessential Thanksgiving spice. But when I went to pour it into the 2 liter casserole as directed I realized it couldn’t possibly fit. Luckily I had an extra 9×13 inch foil pan on hand and was able to use it. But I can certainly imagine a situation on Turkey Day when you’re juggling multiple dishes ready for the next step of your recipe, and the 9×13-inch you actually need is already filled with green bean casserole.

Once the sweet potatoes were in the oven for their first bake, I realized the amount of marshmallows needed wouldn’t be enough. There wasn’t really a way to scale up accurately without the measurements listed in the recipe, so I looked at it and added enough to make it look like the photo. I turned up the oven, browned the mallows and was happy to get a perfect looking casserole out of them despite the snafus.

But when I dug into the shell, any confidence I had immediately went out the window. This didn’t taste like a sweet potato dish at all. At first I was overwhelmed by sage. The more I ate, the more I realized the sweet potatoes weren’t that sweet at all. Maybe my oven temperature wasn’t right and the enzymatic process wasn’t going as directed, or maybe there were just too many savory ingredients mixed into the bottom. When topped with the sugary marshmallows, the contrast was shocking.

Looking back at the headnotes, there is a specific point that mentions that there shouldn’t be “too much mismatch between the two parts – the juxtaposition makes extreme differences that are much more glaring.” But for me and my testers, that’s exactly what happened here. Instead of celebrating the sweet potato’s natural charm and brutality, it was completely masked.

If you’re making the Serious Eats sweet potato and marshmallow casserole, a few tips

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