Spiced Sweet Potato and Parsnip Tian
I think everyone has had a Sweet Potato Casserole at Thanksgiving. It almost doesn’t matter if dinner was at your house, your Grandmother’s or a neighbor’s, someone made a Sweet Potato Casserole. But here’s the thing – the old standard of Thanksgiving can be brought in any time, for all kinds of holidays and family celebrations. And people will love you for it. Food memories, anyone?
Anyhow, most recipes call for puréed sweet potatoes (of course we just referred to it as mashed) with cinnamon and butter. But, the most important thing about it was the perfectly browned mini-marshmallows. Sometimes, they were just sprinkled across the top but if you were really lucky, the person who made it placed a cloud of mini-marshmallows on top so every bite had some sugary sweetness. You always knew who took time with making the casserole because the marshmallows were in a design or rows on the top. Now that was perfect!
As great of a memory as that is, I’ve been searching for an alternative and I think I’ve found it in a recipe that I just read in the Epicurious November 2015 edition. It looks so pretty, but seems so simple to prepare and sounds great. It will definitely be on the menu for my next celebration dinner party – especially because you can make it up to 2 days ahead. Any recipe that lets me spend more time with my friends before dinner is a GOOD one.
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 6 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8 medium), peeled, sliced into 1/8″-thick rounds
- 2 pounds parsnips (about 3 extra-large), peeled, sliced into 1/8″-thick rounds
- Special equipment:
- A 4-quart casserole dish or braiser, preferably round
- Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°F. Bring cider to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, add butter, thyme, Aleppo, and 2 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring, until butter is melted. Let cool slightly.
- Place potatoes and parsnips in a large bowl. Pour cider mixture over and toss to coat. Stack a handful of slices about 3″ high, then place vertically in casserole dish. Using a measuring cup or small bowl, keep slices standing up as you go, working around the perimeter and then into the center, forming concentric circles. Continue arranging slices in pan until tightly packed (you may have some leftover). Pour in cider mixture to come halfway up sides of dish; discard remaining cider mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tsp. salt and cover tightly with foil.
- Bake, covered, 1 hour. Remove foil and brush pan juices over tops of slices with a pastry brush. Increase oven temperature to 425°F and bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top, 35–40 minutes more.
- Do Ahead:
- After first round of baking at 325°F, let cool, then chill for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature, then bake, uncovered, at 425°F for 40–50 minutes.
- Cooks’ Note
- If you have a mandoline, use it to slice the sweet potatoes and parsnips—it will help you get thinner, more even slices in less time than by hand. The number of potatoes and parsnips you need to fill your casserole dish will depend on their width, so buy extra just in case, and try to seek out parsnips that are as close as possible to the width of your sweet potatoes.