“I don’t imagine it was much of a contest,” I murmured, helping him to peel off the dusty coat. “William Tryon’s not even Scots, let alone a Fraser.”
That got me a reluctant half-smile. “Stubborn as rocks,” was the succinct description of the Fraser clan I had been given years before—and nothing in the intervening time period had given me cause to think it inaccurate in any way.
“Aye, well.” He shrugged and stretched luxuriously, his vertebrae cracking from the long ride. “ Oh, Christ. I’m starved; is there food?” He relaxed and lifted his long nose, sniffing the air hopefully.
“Baked ham and sweet potato pie,” I told him, unnecessarily, since the honey-soaked fragrances of both were thick on the humid air. “So what did the Governor say, once you’d got him properly browbeaten?”
His teeth showed briefly at that description of his interview with Tryon, but I gathered from his faint air of satisfaction that it wasn’t totally incorrect. “Oh, a number of things. But to begin with, I insisted he recall to me the circumstances when Roger Mac was taken; who gave him up, and what was said. I mean to get to the bottom of it.” He pulled the thong from his hair and shook out the damp locks, dark with sweat.
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 73 – A Whiter Shade of Pale)
Thanksgiving 2014 is almost upon our US #Outlanders!
The great thing about putting together an Outlander Thanksgiving is that while they’re on their Ridge, pretty much anything the Frasers ate is up for consideration on your menu. Corn dodgers, spoonbread, biscuits and gravy, hazlenut cake, apple fritters and venison pie would all be welcome at a slightly alternative Thanksgiving – although a little different than your average buffet fodder, they’re all period appropriate.
But there’s also a number of dishes across the Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes that fall under the label of “Traditional Thanksgiving” favourites. Of these, one of the most iconic is a Sweet Potato Pie.
First up in my quest for the perfect SPP was to define a sweet potato. You see, to this Canadian, a sweet potato is pale yellow with rough brown skin. In my part of the Great White North, what you see above is called a yam.
So I checked in with my Southern Outlander posse, who all told me in no uncertain terms that the orange guy with the reddish skin is a sweet potato, and that this paler cousin I was describing must be a figment of my imagination, ’cause they’ve never seen anything like that!
I resorted to Google for the final word. It turns out that we’re all at least partly right. My Southern gals’ orange-fleshed tuber is a sweet potato…but I’m also right to call the paler one up here a sweet potato — they are different varieties of the same plant.
Yams are from Africa. It seems that in regions of North America where both varieties of sweet potatoes are available, some Clever-Trevor thought to call the sweeter, moister, red-skinned variety yams.
You know, to avoid confusion.
Once I had my hands on the correct sweet potato, I was off to the races…next up, the crust.
We’ve made lots of pies on OK. Governor Tryon’s Humble Crumble Apple Pie uses my favourite pastry recipe for the crust. If you want a rolled crust under your SPP, then I suggest that recipe if you don’t have one of your own.
For my SPP, I chose to make a graham/pecan crust. It’s a quick, easy option that let’s you get the pie assembled and in the oven without a lot of fuss. No waiting for the pastry to rest, no rolling, no patching…plus I made a little extra for topping!
In the excerpt, Claire tells us the air is heavy with the scent of honey. So I baked my first SPP with honey. It was delicious, but then I got curious because most SPP recipes call for brown sugar. I replaced the honey with brown sugar, and I have to say the molasses in the sugar really does something for those sweet potatoes, because my second pie was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.
I leave it up to you. I wrote the recipe with brown sugar, but have included a substitution for the honey in the notes below the recipe for those who prefer to go by the book.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
: Outlander Kitchen’s version of a Southern Thanksgiving tradition
Yield: 9” Pie
- Sweet Potatoes – 1½ lb (see notes)
- Graham Cracker Crumbs – 1 Cup
- Granulated Sugar – ⅓ Cup
- Butter, melted – ¼ Cup
- Pecans, ground – ½ Cup (see notes)
- Butter – ¼ Cup
- Brown Sugar – ½ Cup (see notes)
- Milk – ½ Cup
- Eggs – 2
- Cinnamon – 1 tsp
- Vanilla – 1 tsp
- Lemon Zest, grated – 1 Lemon
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Nutmeg, freshly grated – pinch (see notes)
Move rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 350°F.
Cover whole sweet potatoes halfway with water, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook until fork tender, about 30-40 minutes. Drain and cool. Remove peel and discard.
Meanwhile, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and pecans in a medium bowl until all crumbs are moistened. Reserve ½ cup for topping, and press remainder into glass or ceramic 9” pie dish. Set aside.
Mash together sweet potato flesh and butter in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and beat well to combine.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle on reserved topping, then bake until lightly golden, another 20-25 minutes.
Cool completely before serving with optional whipped cream.
Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)
- If you prefer a rolled pie crust, here’s my favourite pastry recipe.
- To grind, pulse pecans in a food processor 4 or 5 times. I leave in a few chunky pieces for texture.
- As described in the accompanying blog post, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (aka yams) are what’s called for.
- If you prefer to use honey, substitute ⅓ cup honey for the brown sugar and reduce the milk to ⅓ cup.
- Buy your nutmeg whole and grate on a rasp as you need. There is no point to pre-ground nutmeg – it’s tasteless.