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Spice of Life: Sweet potatoes, leftover turkey combine for tasty casserole

Last Modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 7:17 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

If you are already getting a headache wondering what to do with all the turkey you will have left over this week, the grande dame of Louisiana cooking has an appealing solution.

“No matter how many guests you have, there is always turkey left over. Here is one way to make a second meal,” writes Leah Chase in her book “And I Still Cook.”

The recipe she features is a turkey and sweet potato casserole.

While driving back from Alexandria a few days ago, I saw a guy parked in a truck under some trees a few miles out of Woodworth.

He had a big sign advertising sweet potatoes for sale.

I didn’t stop, but driving back to Lake Charles, thoughts of what to do with the vegetable and turkey started swirling around in my head.

All of a sudden, I thought of a quote by the famed Tuskegee Institute educator George Washington Carver, who wrote in a school newsletter in 1922, “As a food for human consumption, the sweet potato has been, and always will be, held in very high esteem, and its popularity will increase as we learn more about its many possibilities.”

Baked, fried or smoked turkey and prepared sweet potatoes on the plate is normal.

Using those ingredients to make a casserole is a delicious possibility.

What I like about Chase’s recipe is the simplicity. You will see cinnamon, nutmeg and seasoning salt as the flavor enhancers.

She uses turkey and sweet potatoes, which a lot of home cooks will have leftovers of by Friday and Saturday, as the primary ingredients.

That is all topped off with gravy.

There are lots of different after-Thanksgiving recipes, but this one stands out to me. Old cooks who have mixed and matched ingredients for decades are always more credible than their younger counterparts.

What follows is the type of dish somebody’s grandmother puts together for her family after the big feast is over.

Chase got it right with this one. I hope you enjoy.


Turkey and Sweet Potato Casserole (serves 6)

Ingredients

• 6 large baked sweet potatoes

• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt

• 4 cups chopped turkey meat

• Leftover turkey gravy

• 6 strips uncooked bacon

Directions

• Peel and mash potatoes with cinnamon, nutmeg and seasoned salt./span>

• Spray a Pyrex baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes in the dish./span>

• Put a layer of turkey meat over the potatoes. Continue to layer, making sure potatoes are the top layer. Pour a little turkey gravy over the top and lay bacon over the mixture./span>

• Bake at 400 degrees until bacon is crisp, about 30 minutes.

From “And Still I Cook” by Leah Chase

• • •

Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at ecormier@americanpress.com or 494-4090.

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