Maple-Glazed Yams with Pecan Topping

Updated, from the recipe archive. Originally posted in 2005.

A typical holiday feast around here is a rather colorful affair. Lots of browns, yellows, reds, and greens. And then there is orange. I can’t remember a Thanksgiving without a vibrant dish of garnet yams (a.k.a. sweet potatoes). Usually we just mash them up with some brown sugar and spices. But a few years ago, we tried out this recipe from Bon Appetit and loved it! We’ve since adjusted the recipe a bit, removing the flour from the topping and replacing it with ground pecans for our gluten-intolerant family members. I’ve also added a little orange zest to add a little balance to the sweetness of the dish. You could also add a dash of lemon juice for the same purpose. Smothering yams this way, in brown sugar and maple syrup, almost turns this dish into a dessert – not for everyday perhaps, but just the thing for a holiday treat.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs of yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes), peeled, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat a large pot of salted water (add a tablespoon of salt for every two quarts of water) until boiling. Add the yam rounds. Cook the yams until the water starts to simmer again, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, then rinse in cold water.

2 Butter a baking dish. Arrange the yam rounds in the baking dish, overlapping the pieces, layering the yam rounds to fill up the dish. Sprinkle each layer liberally with salt. Sprinkle the yam rounds with orange zest if using. Pour maple syrup over yams. Dot with 2 Tbsp of the butter. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until yams are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

3 Put 3/4 cup pecans in a blender or spice grinder and grind into a coarse meal. Coarsely chop the other 3/4 cup of pecans.

4 Mix the ground pecans and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, mix in the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Mix in the chopped pecans.

5 Sprinkle the pecan mixture over the yams. Bake the yams, uncovered, until the topping browns, about 15 minutes.

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