While I've never been much of an everyday meal planner, I can plan a holiday feast with the best of them. Thanksgiving dinner has always been my favorite meal of the year. Over the years I've collected Thanksgiving cookbooks, bought and saved the Thanksgiving issues of more magazines than I can count, and compiled favorite recipes from family and friends.
I try my hardest to get through Halloween before I let ultimate autumnal feast consume me, but you can put money on the fact that I'll be sitting at my table, dwarfed by precariously teetering stacks of inspiration on November 1st. With pencil in hand, I start jotting down ideas. I'll often create several separate menus—one with entirely traditional dishes, two that contain twists, themes, and non-traditional variations.
But I have a little secret—sometimes none of the menus even get made. At least not in their entirety. You see, we have a small house that's not big enough to host our entire family, so often we wind up at my grandparent's house, my mom's house, and occasionally my uncle's house. And well, I've found that while my family does come to me for cooking advice and tips, and will accept a "course" assignment, they don't appreciate being required to make a specific dish/recipe of my choosing. Go figure.
So most years, my carefully crafted menus are filed away to become inspiration for another year. But as we know, sometimes life has its own plans, and we wind up having Thanksgiving dinner at home, just the 5 of us plus a couple of guests. These are the years that my menus come to fruition.
No matter which scenario plays out, I wouldn't trade my Thanksgiving menu planning tradition for anything. It's part of what makes fall my favorite time of year. This year's location hasn't been decided yet, but I sure am excited at the prospects!
Hand-in-hand with the menu planning is a carefully organized shopping list. I divide it into columns, grouping together all the beautiful season produce in one, proteins in another, dry goods in one, and of course, the all important dairy column. Because let's face it, one can never stock up too much butter during the holiday season.
One of my themed menus this year is going to revolve around infusing Indian flavors into classic turkey day offerings. I'm thinking turkey that has been marinated in the style of Butter Chicken, with gravy that echos that rich, silky sauce...cauliflower roasted and tossed with turmeric...rice pudding infused with pumpkin, cardamom, and cinnamon as a dessert offering...and these utterly irresistible mashed sweet potatoes that are scented with garam masala and rich, nutty browned butter.
This side dish would actually fit in nicely at any Thanksgiving table, not just one with an Indian theme. I've never been the biggest fan of the overly sweet, marshmallow-topped side dish that is customary this time of year, so I'm always working out a recipe that I can actually stomach.
One of my favorite ways to tame the sweetness is to combine sweet potatoes with regular potatoes, like I've done here. Maple syrup enhances the natural sweetness, while the warming spices in the Garam Masala spice mix help keep the flavors grounded. But the real star is the browned butter, whose fragrance alone has been known to make grown men swoon.
I like to use Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter to achieve the delicious results, but if you've used up all of your butter in baking (remember when I said one can never stock up on too much butter?), salted butter will work just fine here, too; just hold off seasoning with extra salt until you've tasted the sweet potato mixture.
And if you really must have your sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows, then by all means, scatter a layer across the top and give them a quick run under the broiler. I'm guessing that the brown butter that gets drizzled over the top before serving will still be your favorite part.
Brown Butter Garam Masala Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Nutty brown butter and the warm spices of Garam Masala take this Thanksgiving side dish to the next level.
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala + more to garnish
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Combine both types of potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by an inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until they are tender, 13-15 minutes; drain. Return them to the same pot set over lowest heat, shaking every once in a while, until the potatoes are dry, 3-5 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, place the butter in a small pan (preferably a light-colored metal pan) over medium heat. Once the butter melts, it will start to bubble and foam. Once it does this, stir or swirl often, until the milk solids have turned golden and start to smell nutty. This doesn't take very long, just a couple of minutes or so. As soon as this happens, pour the butter into a heatproof bowl, scraping out all of those browned bits, to stop the cooking.
Use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes. Add the half of the browned butter, milk, maple syrup, Garam Masala, salt and pepper to the pot, beating until combined. Transfer to a serving dish.
Drizzle the rest of the brown butter over the sweet potatoes and serve, sprinkled with a little more Garam Masala.
As a nod to traditional sweet potato casserole, you can scatter a layer of mini marshmallows over the top of the dish after transferring to a (heatproof) serving dish. Set it under the broiler for a few seconds, until the marshmallows have turned golden. Finish with the final drizzle of brown butter and sprinkling of Garam Masala.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Land O'Lakes, Inc. All opinions are my own.