For the sweet potatoes
8 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons butter, (1/2 stick) melted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the topping
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup pecans
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Combine the brown sugar, flour, pecans, and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until combined. Set aside.
When the sweet potatoes are tender to the point of a knife, remove them to cool slightly. Peel the sweet potatoes, discarding the skins, and place the sweet potato in a medium bowl. Add sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla extract; season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to a medium casserole dish. Sprinkle over the reserved topping. Return to the oven and bake until bubbly and browned, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
James Beard Foundation Award-winner Virginia Willis has made cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, and Julie Chrisley with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. She is the author of Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. She’s been seen on Food Network, CBS This Morning, and Fox and Friends and featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Eater, and Food52. She has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. Her fans love her foolproof recipes and down-to-earth attitude. Learn more at www.virginiawillis.com.
Reprinted with permission from Lighten Up, Y’all by Virginia Willis © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography © 2015 by Angie Mosier. For more information please visit www.virginiawillis.com