Low Sodium Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Praline Topping
Are you one of those people that grew up on that super sugary sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping? I was and it lead to me hating sweet potatoes. I remember it just sat in your stomach like a rock after the turkey and stuffing. It almost ruined any room you wanted to have for the pies! I mean, come on! As I grew older, I revisited sweet potatoes, but I took the approach of more savory recipes. I found out, that in the South, people would not use marshmallow as a topping. They used a savory pecan praline topping. So here is my recipe for low sodium Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Praline Topping.
Going Savory Over Sweet
As I was saying, I really don’t like the sweet potatoes to be too sweet. So the spice profiles I like tend to be more savory, and I even like to add some heat. You can see that in my low sodium Maple Chipotle Sweet Potato Hash. So you will see those spice profiles in this dish. I also cut the amount of sweet potato and add in other regular potatoes to keep the sweet factor from going overboard.
My Secret Tip To Make Creamy Potatoes
When I am making any kind of mashed potato dish, I want them to be creamy. Mom and Grandma used to use milk or heavy cream to do the trick. But then there is the sodium. My trick is to mix in some Marscapone cheese, which is the lowest sodium of the spreadable cheeses I have found. Most grocers carry Marscapone in the dairy sections usually near the other cream cheeses. Sometimes it is by the cottage cheese and ricotta. If you can’t find the Marscapone, a very low sodium cream cheese or Neufschatel cheese will work. Please read the labels to find the lowest.
You also will want to use a potato ricer to get both your sweet and other potatoes to the right consistency to be easily blended together. It is an essential tool when I make any kinds of mashed or twice baked potatoes where I need to have a smooth blend. If you are a new parent or have little ones, potato ricers are what you would use to make your own baby food at home for your little one. You can find them on Amazon or in your local cookware stores.
Goodbye Marshmallows, Hello Pecan Praline
The majority of the sweetness overkill in potato casserole is from the marshmallow topping. Don’t get me wrong, I love marshmallows in other dishes, and in moderation. They are essential for S’mores and perfect with hot chocolate. Also in pies. I needed a new topping to replace it. I like to learn the history of a dish and in my Wikipedia wanderings I came across the fact that in the South, they top their casserole with kind of a nut brittle. That really intrigued me. It would add a new element to the dish. In addition to super sweet, the marshmallow casserole had only one texture, kind of mushy. The Pecan Pralines would add a crunchy element to the dish. This was awesome!
What Are Pecan Pralines?
Pecan Pralines are basically a pattie or cookie made from mixing pecans into a buttery, brown sugar, vanilla mixture. It is made similar to making a brittle or caramel. I highly recommend using a candy thermometer when making them to ensure you have the sugar just right, and you won’t burn it. Candy Thermometers can be found easily at your local store that carries cookware, or also on Amazon. They actually are made up as holiday cookies in the South, and are similar to my low sodium Haystack Cookies that use unsalted peanuts.
These can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator a few days in advance. When you follow the recipe, you will create these patties that can then be easily crumbled on top of the casserole to create that nutty-crunchy texture we are looking for here.
I think that if you try this recipe, you might find you like this much better than the marshmallow topped casseroles. It has become a regular dish in our Thanksgiving rotation, and I think it might become one of yours.
The Recipe For Low Sodium Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Praline Topping
A healthier, and low sodium version of a Southern Thanksgiving classic dish.
- 2 1/2 cups Unsalted Pecan Halves & Pieces
- 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 2 cups Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 cup Bourbon or low sodium Maple Syrup if you desire alcohol free
- 1 cup Half & Half
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter Plus more for greasing
- 1 1/2 pounds Russet Potatoes peeled and cut into a large dice
- 1 1/2 pounds Sweet Potatoes peeled and cut into a large dice
- 1 small bundle Thyme tied with butcher's twine
- 3 cloves Garlic peeled and smashed
- 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
- 2/3 cup Marscapone Cheese
- 2 1/2 tsp Nutmeg Freshly grated
- 2 large Eggs beaten
- 1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
- 1 roll Butcher's Twine
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
On a baking sheet place the pecans and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until light golden brown and crisp, stirring halfway through. Allow to cool.
In a Dutch oven (or large pot), add the butter, brown sugar, sugar, bourbon (or Maple Syrup if choosing), cream and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees F.
Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 4 minutes. Stir in the pecans and vanilla and stir continuously for another 2 minutes, until the mixture thickens and isn't shiny.
Using 2 spoons, scoop the mixture onto a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet and gently press out/flatten with your hands into patties (you should have about 14 patties).
Allow to stand until firm, about 45 minutes. Place in the freezer.
Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Grease a large casserole dish with unsalted butter.
In a large pot of water, add the Russet and sweet potatoes, thyme and garlic.
Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and discard the thyme and garlic. Rice the potatoes over the pot and place the pot over low heat. Allow the potatoes to dry out before you begin adding additional ingredients. You can squeeze out the extra moisture with a cheese cloth if you want to speed the process.
Add the butter, mascarpone, and evaporated milk. Stir to combine, but do not over mix.
Season well with pepper and nutmeg. Whisk in the eggs.
Spread evenly into the buttered casserole dish and break up the frozen praline patties into small pieces, resembling a crumble over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes, until light golden brown on top and puffed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut and serve.
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