Thanksgiving is on the way! Yams tend to be a favorite traditional side at almost every turkey day meal. Nothing is better than getting a steamy heaping spoonful of this perfectly prepared dish.
The only problem is, the quality of this treat varies person to person… Sadly, we’ve all had disappointing yams time and time again. Following these 5 simple tips will help you impress even the most critical of cooks and Prepare Perfect Thanksgiving Yams. Say goodbye to a mediocre dish, and hello to a pan of magic that will have everyone coming back for more.
5 Ways to Prepare Perfect Thanksgiving Yams
- Fresh vs. Canned – This is an age old question. Many people use canned because they’re not sure they can make fresh yams. Guess what, you can! It’s simple. Buy several large yams, they should be firm and blemish free. Peel them, chop them into cubes about 3/4 inches thick, and that’s it. The rest of the dish is prepared as easily as it is with canned yams. Canned yams are packed in syrup, and tend to be very sweet. A fresh yam packs more natural flavor (which isn’t as sweet), and the texture is considerably more desirable. Think of it like buying canned vs. fresh peas. Fresh always wins, the taste and consistency is far superior than of its canned counterpart.
- Cooking – Roast, boil, or both? Everyone prefers it different. A roasted yam will be slightly more firm and will maintain more nutritional value. It’s also cooked this way in most high-end restaurants. A boiled yam will be softer, lose a bit of its unique flavor, but will also come out creamier. A yam that is boiled then roasted, will have the creaminess, but also the nuttiness that comes from roasting. If you’re not sure which one to pick, then try them all. You’ll eventually find which cooking method you like best.
- Spices – Here’s the truth: Your yams will be as bland and plain as you make them. The most important aspect of flavoring, is to season to taste. Don’t be afraid while you’re mixing it all together to taste as you go (clean spoon each time). Flavorful spices to add to your yam mixture, are cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. The brown sugar and butter tie it all together.
- Marshmallows – I have to admit; I am biased on this aspect. A slightly crisp golden topper of mallows makes my mouth water. For me, it’s reminiscent of childhood campfires and gooey s’mores. The tradition in my family is to add a layer of them to the top, then brown them slightly in the oven. It adds to the experience by adding a little bit of crunch, and sweet gooeyness. Not all yams need them, but more than likely, your dish will be a hit if you add a layer.
- Keep Watch – Last but not least, is the most important aspect of making an over the top dish. Keep an eye on it while its cooking! It’s easy for your yams to go from perfect to lumpy baby food. They should be fork tender. Test it out 5 to 10 minutes before the end of the cook time. Not all ovens are created equal, and cook times will vary. I’m sure you’ve seen it, and I’ve done it myself, where I’m carefully trying to scrape blackened marshmallows off the top of my pan to salvage it. It’s easy to get distracted while cooking Thanksgiving sides, so stay vigilant, and you won’t be sorry.
Thanksgiving brings family, friends, and food into an unforgettable event. Have fun cooking, and enjoy!