The One Thanksgiving Dish That Chefs Say You Should Ditch

November 17, 2017

© Eugene Bochkarev | Dreamstime

Thanksgiving is steeped in traditions as we gather to give thanks and enjoy foods that have been staples for as long as you can remember.  However there is one food that the majority of professional chefs say that should be bumped off your menu: sweet potatoes topped with oven-browned marshmallows.  It's not that sweet potatoes and the numerous casseroles associated with it shouldn't be part of your menu, it's topping it with marshmallows.  The concept of sweetening sweet potatoes has been around since as long as our Founding Fathers.  The Library of Congress has recipe for “potato pudding”, which calls for mashed sweet potatoes, milk, nutmeg and egg whites, similar to the ingredients that go into modern sweet potato casseroles. The basic recipe was, and still remains a hit.  Fast forward to the early 20th century when sweet potatoes were common on American dinner tables and new food creation called the marshmallow emerged.  However no one knew what to do with it in the kitchen.  So marketing companies were employed to find ways to incorporate the sugary treat into food items.  It lead to one company to commission Boston Cooking School Magazine founder Janet McKenzie Hill to develop recipes based on the sweet. Her resulting 1917 booklet featured a recipe for sweet potatoes baked with marshmallows and a tradition was born.  However todays' chefs generally agree the dish offers little variety in taste and texture.  That doesn’t mean you should remove sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving.  There are several ways to prepare them without marshmallows. One chef suggests combining them with Idaho potatoes for some acidity and topping the dish with praline for textured sweetness.


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