Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mom’s Apricot Yams with Spice

Slice of Apricot Yam Casserole
Apricot Yams

Recipe by Mom and Robin

Happy Thanksgiving, All! The first thing that I do every Thanksgiving, before I’m even out of bed, is to think of 10 things for which to give thanks. Top of the list is always my husband, friends, family, home, and having plenty to eat. It’s everyday things--like a bountiful harvest that puts food on the table--that Thanksgiving celebrates.

My Mom created an early version of this recipe for Easter. Yes, it is unusual to make yams and dried apricots for a spring holiday instead of a fall or winter one, but my mother was not exactly conventional. She served it with roast duck, our other Easter standard. This combo could also work for a Thanksgiving menu.

Pan of Apricots with Potato Masher
Mashing the Apricots
This has been my standard Thanksgiving potluck dish for many years, this year included. It has converted many a yam-hater to a yam-aficionado. Barbara, who used to host Thanksgiving dinner, specifically requested that I bring this dish so that she could eat yams, even though she hated them otherwise. “I can’t believe I’m asking you to bring yams!” she quipped.

Throughout the years I’ve tweaked this recipe, finally settling on the Grand Marnier (or substitute orange juice) and cinnamon as the perfect, not-too-overwhelming flavor enhancements. But feel free to experiment with other spices that you like. Ginger could be interesting.

Smooth Texture Mixture in Bowl
Ready to Put into Casserole & Bake
Mom’s original recipe calls for using an electric mixer to create the characteristic smooth texture, which I think makes this dish palatable for those who don't like plain yams.  I pre-mash the yams and apricots with a hand held potato masher to avoid throwing large chunks of yams around the kitchen with the mixer. I’ve tried a food processor, but found that less successful. Today I tried using an immersion blender instead of the mixer, with good results.

The problem of keeping the potluck dish warm while not intruding upon your Thanksgiving hosts’ valuable kitchen real estate can be solved with an ingenious piece of equipment,  CorningWare’s “Anywhere” portable casserole dish. This includes the dish, a plastic cover, a carrying case, and a hot/cold pack. With the heated hot pack in the carrying case pocket the casserole will stay warm for about 3 hours. The hot pack can also be used as a cold pack, just freeze it to transport cool potluck dishes in summer.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love of those close to you and a plentiful feast of seasonal foods.

Completed Casserole with Orange Slices and Mint Leaves
One Idea for Garnish
Mom’s Apricot Yams with Some Spice
serves about 12

2½ lbs yams
1½ c packed dried apricots
4 eggs
1 tbsp. sugar
1¼ tsp. salt  
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Grand Marnier and/or orange juice
1 tbsp. orange peel, grated
6 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
¾ tsp. cinnamon
Optional garnish: sliced orange and parsley or mint leaves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9” x 13” (3 quart) casserole dish.

Cook yams in water till tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, cool, and peel. Mash up with potato masher.

Bring dried apricots to boil in small amount of water over low heat. For moist apricots, use about ½ cup water. Very dry apricots will need up to 2 cups. Simmer till apricots are rehydrated, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently and breaking up apricots with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and mash apricots with a potato masher.

Beat eggs till fluffy, add sugar, salt, Grand Marnier and/or orange juice.

Use electric mixer or immersion blender to puree yams. Add apricots and if there are large chunks, continue using mixer or blender to break them up.  Stir in butter.

Add egg mixture and orange peel to yam mixture and stir together with mixer or by hand. Stir in cinnamon.

Turn into buttered casserole, sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Garnish with orange slices and parsley.


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