Bourbon adds a complex, woody flavor to this twist on the holiday sweet potato casserole, keeping things from veering off into kids’-table territory. Roasted sweet potatoes are mashed so they stay chunky, then mixed with melted butter, bourbon, milk, some cinnamon and nutmeg, and orange zest for loads of flavor without being too boozy-tasting. This glorious mash is packed into a buttered casserole dish, and topped with a pecan-and-brown-sugar streusel that turns crunchy as it bakes.
Shopping note: Garnets (also known as Sweet Garnets or Red Yams) have bright, orangey-red flesh, a moist texture, and moderate sweetness.
Make-ahead note: Though the streusel is crunchiest when freshly made, this casserole can be completely made ahead, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat uncovered in a 350°F oven until heated through, 35 to 45 minutes.
- Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
- Active: 1 hr
For the sweet potatoes:
- 6 pounds medium Garnet sweet potatoes
For the streusel topping:
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 14 pieces
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, finely chopped (about 6 ounces)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), plus more for coating the dish
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup whole milk
To bake the sweet potatoes and make the topping:
- Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very soft to the touch, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut it into the flour mixture until the butter’s in pea-size pieces or smaller, about 5 minutes. Add the pecans and toss with your fingers to combine.
- Squeeze clumps of the mixture between your fingers to form irregularly shaped pieces about the size of kidney beans. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble and bake:
- When the sweet potatoes are done roasting, place the baking sheet on a wire rack and set it aside until the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter and set it aside.
- Place the bourbon, measured butter, orange zest, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the mixture has started to bubble, about 5 minutes; set aside.
- When the sweet potatoes are cooled, cut them in half lengthwise. Scrape the flesh out with a spoon and transfer it to a large bowl; discard the skins. Using a potato masher, mash the flesh until it’s almost smooth but some chunks remain. Add the bourbon mixture and the milk and stir until evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
- Evenly sprinkle the streusel topping over the sweet potatoes. Bake until the streusel is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Place the dish on a wire rack and let it sit 10 minutes before serving.