Updated: Feb 2, 2022
By Elizabeth Gracen:
I won't be cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year, because we are off on a small road trip to see relatives we have not been able to see since the lockdown. We will feast on all the classic dishes prepared with loving care, and my contribution will be my usual napkin folding and post-meal cleanup. I can't wait to see familiar faces and celebrate. I don't miss cooking the big meal at all—which is strange for me, since I like to cook—but like so many of us will be doing this year, I'm counting my blessings and bringing my stretchy pants to the meal.
If they needed a dish, I would bring one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, created by a long-time NYC friend who I don't stay in touch with enough—Rocco! When I lived in the city, he kept me well coiffed, well-fed, and always laughing. He taught me all sorts of Italian dishes, show tunes, and life lessons, and there was a special thrill in making my way through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to Grand Central Station for the quick train ride to Cold Spring Historic District for our Thanksgiving meal.
Rocco's Bourbon-Soaked Sweet Potatoes are truly decadent and fabulous. It takes a bit of prep, but it is well worth the effort, adding just the right amount of sweetness and that classic sweet-potato flavor so indicative of the holiday.
Maybe I'll make it during the weekend. Who says that I have to wait for a holiday?
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Rocco's Bourbon-Soaked Sweet Potatoes
6 large sweet potatoes
6 apples (Pink Ladies, Gala, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp . . . whatever you like!)
2 sticks of butter
1.5 cups brown sugar
Bourbon Whiskey of your choice
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Place the sweet potatoes directly on the rack in the oven and bake until tender, approx. 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and let cool enough to peel and cut into 1/2-inch rounds.
Slice the apples into 1/2-inch slices.
Cut one stick of the butter into pieces and melt over a low flame.. Add the slices and sauté until tender but not mushy.
In another pan, melt the other stick of butter. Add the brown sugar.
Squeeze the orange and lemon into the mixture. Stir until well blended.
Let it cook into a light caramel syrup.
Butter the sides and bottom of a casserole dish.
Place the sweet potato rounds in a single layer on the bottom of the casserole.
Top with a layer of apples.
Spoon a thin layer of the caramel syrup on top of the mixture.
Repeat the layers, using all of the apples and sweet potatoes.
Make sure to leave enough syrup for a final spread over the top.
Now the good part . . . bourbon!
Using your thumb to partially cover the top of the bottle, splash the bourbon over the top of the casserole. How much you splash is up to you. Obviously, you don't want to create a soupy mess, but splash away!
Put the casserole in the oven and bake for approx. 30 minutes until the liquid caramel mixture is bubbly and fragrant.
Once the casserole is heated through and bubbly, remove it from the oven until ready to serve. You can cover it with foil to keep it warm until you serve!
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