Sweet Potato Gratin with Pecans
Either type of sweet potato—the red-skinned, orange-fleshed variety or the tan-skinned, meaty yellow ones sometimes sold as yams—can be used to make this gratin. The latter will produce a thicker, denser dish than the former, which will be thinner and creamier. Serve as part of a breakfast buffet, alongside eggs and bacon, or as a side dish for roast turkey or pork.
- 1/3 cup pecan halves
- 4 thin slices prosciutto, about 2 oz. total, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 4 sweet potatoes, 1 1/2 to 2 lb. total, cut into slices about 1 inch thick
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
Spread the pecans in a single layer in a pie dish. Toast, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are fragrant and barely golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
In a fry pan over medium-high heat, cook the prosciutto, stirring, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Place the sweet potato slices in a single layer in the top pan of a double boiler set over boiling water. Cover and steam the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. When the slices are cool enough to handle, peel them and transfer to a bowl. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the potatoes until nearly smooth. Add 1 Tbs. of the butter, the crème fraîche, salt and pepper and stir to blend. Stir in the prosciutto. Spread the sweet potato mixture in a shallow 1- to 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
Coarsely chop the toasted pecans. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the sweet potato mixture. Cut the remaining 1 Tbs. butter into bits and dot the top.
Bake until the butter has melted, the top has formed a lightly golden crust and the sweet potatoes are hot throughout, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).