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Uncle Allan’s Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Dried Cranberries

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Allan Fradkin's sweet potato casserole

Allan Fradkin's sweet potato casserole is a Thanksgiving favorite. If you don't want apples or cranberries in your sweet potatoes, just leave them out. If you like marshmallows, feel free to add those as the potatoes are baking. 

How is your Thanksgiving sweet potato game? My Uncle Allan’s Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Dried Cranberries (also known as the best sweet potato casserole you’ll ever have) is about to up it exponentially. These are the sweet potatoes someone in my family (who will remain nameless) steals from the fridge Friday morning and eats in bed.

Allan Fradkin (not really my uncle, but our dear friend) shared this recipe for sweet potatoes with me years ago, and it became the standard on our Thanksgiving table. Spiced up with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and cardamom, plus lots of fresh orange, it’s got flavor to spare. The apples add a sweet, well, not quite a crunch. Can we call it a soft crunch? Texture. And the cranberries add a little tangy-sweet chew. 

Now, if you don’t want apples or cranberries in your sweet potatoes, this also is a fabulous recipe – just leave out the last two ingredients. Allan’s recipe also calls for Gran Marnier, which I leave out only because I forget every year to buy it, and a praline topping, which I also forgo. If you’re a marshmallow family, feel free to add those as the potatoes are baking. 

You will soon be thanking Uncle Allan, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Uncle Allan’s Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Dried Cranberries

4 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup brown sugar
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, divided
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
freshly squeezed juice (including pulp) and zest from 2 large oranges
3 honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
2 cups dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. With the tip of a sharp knife, poke 3 holes into each sweet potato. Arrange the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let the sweet potatoes cool enough that you can remove the skins with your hands. Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat the brown sugar, 1 ½ sticks of butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and orange zest and juice over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted.

Meanwhile, place the apples and 1 stick of butter in a glass baking dish. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave for 5 minutes. Pour the cranberries into the dish with the apples and stir. Set aside.

Pour the butter-sugar-orange juice mixture over the sweet potatoes and use a fork or potato masher to roughly mash the potatoes. As you do, they will absorb the liquid. Once you have the consistency you like, add the apples and cranberries, and stir. Transfer to a 3-quart (9-inch x 13-inch) casserole dish and bake for 1 hour. 

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