The patchwork of black olives, spiced cranberries, sweet gherkin pickles, homemade pickled watermelon rind and pickled herring, my dad's personal favorite, was a feast unto itself. Those one-bite delights offered a crisp and tangy contrast between nibbles of mashed potatoes and green bean casserole that accompanied the bird. The relish tray made a lasting impression, and to this day provides me with comfort and familiarity of carrying forward a family tradition.
But when my sister called me to make menu arrangements this year, she assured me the relish tray was covered. Would I please make my brandied sweet potatoes? she asked, a dish I have made every Thanksgiving and Christmas for at least 23 years.
Happy Turkey Day, everyone!
Brandied Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes
2/3 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c. water
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. seedless raisins
1/4 c. cognac
Wash the sweet potatoes, but do not peel them. Boil in water to cover until barely soft, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and peel. Slice into a greased casserole. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring the brown sugar, water, butter and raisins to a boil. Add the cognac and pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, basting several times with the syrup in the casserole.