Well, I was over at A Year of CrockPotting and found this lovely looking recipe for Pecan Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes. I had planned on making My Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole but was intrigued by the slow-cooker version with cranberries.
Since I couldn't decide and WAS NOT making two dishes of sweet potatoes -- see how well that worked-- so this is what we did. One night we had just sweet potatoes for supper -- the kids wimped out and also had a sandwich --and tried out both recipes. Here is what we came up with.
The Crockpot Pecan-topped Sweet Potatoes
Ease of preparation:They were both fairly easy. The slow- cooker required the potatoes to be sliced and stagger-stacked. Once it was assembled, it required nothing more for 4-6 hours. For someone with perfectionist tendancies, the stagger-stacking was a bit tiresome -- I kept telling myself it wasn't Christmas dinner and didn't have to be perfect.
Appearance:To be honest, the cranberries in the slow-cooker made it very dark, I would have thought it overcooked if it had been in the oven. Also the milk did some funny curdled looking things. Now it is possible that I did something wrong to account for this but I am not sure what.
Also there was a big pool of liquid that went most of the way up the potatoes. As someone who doesn't like their food to touch, all this liquid is disturbing. (I know, I know. I am strange.)
Taste:You know, I didn't really taste the cranberries and the sweet potatoes were a bit bland as well. Sometimes two different flavors play together really well and seem to highlight the best in both (like chocolate and peanut butter). Other times they just wrestle each other into blandness. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't as flavorful as I thought it should be. Now again, maybe it is just me or I did something wrong. I don't really know.
This also made alot and reducing a slow-cooker recipe can be tricky. So I am not really tempted to try again.
Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole
Ease of preparation:This recipe needed the potatoes mashed, but for someone with OCD tendancies this was much faster than the other. Really just peeling, and then chunking the potatoes to boil them and mash seemed easier. This is a dish I would feel comfortable letting my 9 year old make (maybe with help getting the potatoes out of the hot water).
Appearance:I thought this looked very pretty, the orangey color of the potatoes peeking out through the topping. The topping made a lovely crust that was slightly crunchy which leads to taste . . . .
Taste:I love plain mashed sweet potatoes but these are better. (Its like comparing fat-free ice cream to the regular. You might be fine with the fat free but the full fat is soooooo much better.) The topping is crunchy and sweet (like the streusel crumb topping on the really good muffins) and a great contrast to the smooth mashed goodness.
The Final Verdict
I really wanted to love the Pecan-Topped Sweet Potatoes (on the left) because I could just pre-assemble and then turn on the crockpot that morning. But we just didn't. It wasn't bad, and if someone else fixed it we would eat it (well, except Daisy who hates nuts). But it just didn't work for us.
So we made Mom's recipe. Actually made way too much, but it was delicious.
Again the recipe links are (click on the title) Pecan Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes and My Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole.