Candied yams have always been something of a mystery to me. Growing up, we only ever ate them on Thanksgiving, which was strange because they are such a perfect kid food: sweet, rich and tangy from the orange juice. And even on Thanksgiving, its sweetness was befuddling.
Candied yams are like a little preview of dessert, a treat for the sweet tooth before the serious business of pies and ice creams begin in earnest.
As an adult, I now realize that candied yams properly occupy the middle position between the mashed potatoes and the cranberry sauce. Potatoes are starchy and rich with butter and cream, while the cranberry sauce is sweet and intensely tart. The yams borrow from each and by so doing bind the traditional Thanksgiving plate together.
Know that with a dish so classic as candied yams, there are as many ways to make it as there are cooks! If you have a favorite way to make candied yams, please let us know about it in the comments.
- 3 pounds garnet or ruby sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1-1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons butter
Boil the sweet potatoes 5 to 10 min:
Place the cut sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with a couple inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt.
Boil the sweet potatoes for 5-10 minutes, or until you can just pierce them with the tines of a fork, but not fully cooked (you will continue to cook in the next step). Drain and set aside.
Simmer remaining ingredients:
Mix the remaining ingredients (orange juice, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, butter) in a shallow, wide sauté pan and bring to a boil on high heat.
Add sweet potatoes, cook until sauce reduces to a syrup:
Add the sweet potatoes and coat well with the sauce. Boil on high heat until the sauce reduces to a syrup, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.