I didn’t really grow up eating sweet potatoes. On the other hand, they were a staple in my husband’s family growing up. When I think of potatoes, I think savory flavors. Salt, herbs, vinegar, you know, those kind of flavors. It wasn’t until adulthood that I really embraced the sweet potato and all of his lovely casserole forms around the holidays. However, this holiday season, I’ve been craving a more savory sweet potato casserole instead of the norm. I recently had a very delicious sweet potato bisque that involved coconut milk, chipotle peppers, and bacon, which was my inspiration for this savory sweet potato casserole. Man, oh man, did my muse serve me well. This is freaking fantastic.
It gets its smokiness from not just smoked paprika, but also chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Chipotle peppers in adobo can easily be found in the Latin section of the grocery store. Chipotle peppers are simply dried and smoked jalapenos, and the adobo sauce is a sweet and tangy tomato sauce that they are canned within. No need to drain off the sauce. I typically just pull out a pepper from the can onto my cutting board and chop it finely. I discard any stems but include the seeds in my cooking. I love keeping a jar of these around the kitchen and put them in all sorts of dishes that need a little kick.
The topping of the casserole is simply breadcrumbs with a little oil, seasoning, and crumbled bacon. All of this adds a beautiful crunch component to the consistency of the casserole. I think that this dish is all about balance. The sweetness of the potatoes is balanced with smoky and savory flavors. The soft texture of the potatoes is juxtaposed with the crunch of the panko breadcrumbs and crispy bacon. And, there you have it, folks. I’m totally going to win a casserole of the year award here. I mean, that should totally be a thing, right?
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Smoky and Savory Sweet Potato Casserole
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Category: side dish
- 4 medium-large sweet potatoes (about 2.5 lbs)
- 4 slices of bacon, cut into ½” pieces
- 1 small onion, minced finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced with seeds
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. oregano
- salt/pepper to taste
- 1 can coconut milk (~13.5 oz)
- 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp. light-colored olive oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pierce each one several times with a fork. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until easily pierced all the way through with a fork. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crispy and remove to drain on a paper towel. Drain bacon fat from skillet except for about 1-2 tsp. Add onion and for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, and salt/pepper to taste. Cook for additional 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat, add coconut milk, and stir.
- In a separate bowl, mix breadcrumbs, olive oil, and bacon crumbles. Season to taste with black pepper.
- Once sweet potatoes cool enough to handle, scoop orange flesh out of potatoes into large mixing bowl. Add coconut milk mixture and mash. Fold in the eggs to the sweet potato mixture. Spray a 9×13 size casserole pan with nonstick spray or with olive oil. Add potato mixture to casserole pan. Top with breadcrumb mixture and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until breadcrumbs golden and casserole warmed through.