My Grandma's Yams
My family doesn’t eat the traditional Thanksgiving meal: turkey, cranberry sauce, ham, green bean casserole…but we do love some yams. My favorite part about Thanksgiving is my Grandma’s Yams.
They’re sweet, fall-apart tender, and the perfect side dish to my dad’s Prime Rib (our preferred turkey substitute). I look forward to them every year, and just like Pumpkin Pie and stuffing, I wonder why people don’t make them year-round. Maybe that’s what makes it so special.
These yams are simple and guaranteed to be delicious. Every family has their own version of yams. Some are really candied, sweet like dessert. Growing up, I loved my Grandma’s yams because they seemed to be enhanced versions of their natural sweetness. They weren’t glazed, or topped with marshmallows. The yams were addictive to me, and I think that’s because they weren’t crazy sweet.
This past week I decided to try my hand at her yams and see if I could create a piece of my childhood. Silly me.. thought I could figure it out without bothering my Grandma. I decided to melt butter and whisk in brown sugar, creating a glaze. I baked the yams in the glaze and they turned out amazing(ly…sweet). If you would like to make traditional Candied Yams, this is an excellent method. I melted 1 cup of butter with 2 cups of brown sugar (yikes) and it created a glossy glaze and made the yams almost like a dessert.
However, I don’t like my yams quite as candied - I called my grandma and asked her how she cooks them. Simply put, less sugar! She told me, “The yams are naturally sweet. You don’t need to put so much.” :) Today I tried again..and the result tasted like my childhood.
What You Need: (Serves 4-6)
4 medium sized yams - Look for yams of the same general size so that when they are boiled they cook with the same timing. When shopping, I suggest 1 yam per person.
1/2 cup chilled butter
Pinch of salt
What To Do:
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Scrub the yams clean and do not peel them.
- Place the yams into a large stock pot and cover them with cold water. Lightly salt the water.
- Place over medium-high heat and let the water come to a boil.
- Allow them to simmer until they are fork tender, at least 35 minutes. The peels will begin to fall away from the flesh, and a fork will easily pierce the yam. Don’t cook them until they are falling apart.
- Remove the yams and allow them to cool to the touch. Peel the skin off with your fingers. Cut the yams into whatever sized chunks you wish.
- Place the yams into a baking dish. It’s best if you can get them in an even layer, but if not, it’s alright.
- If making them ultra candied, melt 1 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring in 2 cups of brown sugar with a fork or whisk. I love this silicone coated whisk from Daiso. Sticky things such as this brown sugar mixture just slide right off!
- If you want to simply enhance their sweetness, cube about 1/2 cup of chilled butter and sprinkle over the yams. Sprinkle your desired amount of brown sugar - honestly, the more, the better :) Sprinkle a bit of salt over the yams - I like to use chunky sea salt.
- Baked the yams for about 40 minutes or until tender and cooked thru. The edges should be bubbling :) Serve warm or room temp, they’re delicious either way!
So easy, right? I’ve eaten half the platter as I’ve typed this recipe :P