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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I did. This was the first Thanksgiving in six years that neither my sister nor I went overboard during Thanksgiving Eve bar festivities, which meant we were sober and raring to go by brunch time on Thanksgiving Day. I arrived to my parents’ house around 11am and was welcomed by a big mimosa with what is apparently my ghetto-name-generator name on it, courtesy of my mature big sister (yes, that says ass machine teapot). This probably gives you more than enough insight into what the holidays are like with my crazy family.

Needless to say, we had a quite an enjoyable holiday. To help with some of the cooking burden, I brought over a few dishes that I’ll highlight in my blog over the next week. This first recipe is for a sweet potato and goat cheese gratin. Using a similar technique to the one I used in my Gruyere and Rosemary Gratin a few months back, I made a fairly traditional gratin but with a new twist on flavors.

Sweet potato and goat cheese is one of my favorite combinations. I don’t like when sweet potatoes are prepared like candy with marshmallows and brown sugar. I like my sweet potatoes to be savory. Sweet potato and goat cheese is a classic combination because the tanginess of the goat cheese compliments that sweetness of the potatoes well and cuts some of the candied flavor. The yummy crust on the top attracts even the biggest sweet potato haters in the family.

While sweet potatoes have a very fall/Thanksgiving feel to them, this dish can really be made year round as a vegetarian entrée or as a side. Gratins also re-heat incredibly well. I prepared this dish two days before Thanksgiving and baked it covered for 40 minutes until the sweet potatoes were ¾ of the way to done. I then popped it in the refrigerator (you could also go to the freezer with this). On Thanksgiving Day I put it in the oven for 25-30 minutes uncovered until it was warmed through and the top was brown and bubbly. If you’re responsible for bringing a side for the holidays, this is a great option. And by all means, if you’re looking to jazz up your holiday celebrations, check out the ghetto name generator for a little untraditional fun. Hope you enjoy! J

The Ingredients

Makes a 9×13 casserole
2.5 lbs sweet potatoes
4 tbsp butter (3 tbsp for roux, 1 tbsp for topping)
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp chopped shallot (or onion)
1 ½ cup half and half
¼ cup chicken broth
6 oz goat cheese (3oz for sauce, 3oz for layering)
Salt, to taste
Parsley, to taste
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded

The Directions

  1. You want to begin with your sauce, because sweet potatoes will darken if left unpeeled for too long. To start the sauce, we’re going to create a roux, which is a flour and butter mixture used for thickening sauces. Melt 3tbsp of butter in a medium pot. Add chopped shallots and sauté until translucent.

  2. Add the flour to the butter/shallot mixture and stir into a paste. Let the mixture cook for a few minutes to cook out the taste of the flour.

  3. Add the half and half and stir constantly over medium heat until the half and half begins to thicken. This can take about 5-10 minutes, depending on your heat. You want to keep a close eye on the half and half because it can boil over and curdle very easily if not watched and stirred. The sauce is ready when the half and half leaves a thick coating on a spoon.

  4. Add half of the goat cheese to the sauce and stir until smooth. Season with salt and parsley to taste. Set sauce aside.
  5. To prepare the potatoes, peel them and then slice very thinly using a mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin, you can slice them by hand very thinly with a knife.

  6. Spray the bottom of of a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place a layer of sweet potatoes on the bottom of the pan. Top potatoes with part of the cream mixture. Top the cream mixture with crumbles of goat cheese. Continue layering in that order, finishing with a layer of sweet potatoes. Press down slightly when done to pack in the potatoes. Season top layer with salt and parsley.

  7. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in the microwave. Toss butter with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese to create topping. Pat topping on top of potatoes.

  8. Bake covered in foil for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender and the top is browned.