Sweet potatoes have a long history in the Smith family, going back as far as my grandfather, Pa Smith, who would plant them in organized rows where the vines would leaf out and bloom their beautiful morning glory-type flowers (trivia item: sweet potatoes are actually in the morning glory plant family, Ipomoea).

Once they had been harvested, stored, and cured, my family would enjoy them throughout the fall and winter. They would boil, bake, soufflé, and sauté their way through a variety of sweet and savory recipes that never failed to delight.  If a guest was not a sweet potato fan at the beginning of the meal, they would be by the end.

Let me share with you one of my favorite sweet potato recipes that you can try at a holiday meal. If you wanted to work one into a weekday meal, even better.




  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 sweet potatoes (about 2-1/4 lbs total), peeled and cut in to 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Generously butter a 1-1/2-inch-deep gratin dish, and set it aside
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet over low heat
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is softened, 3 to 4 minutes
  5. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes
  6. Stir in the cream and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally; remove from heat
  7. Arrange the potatoes in layers in the gratin dish, seasoning them with salt and pepper to taste
  8. Pour the cream mixture over the potatoes, and bake for 1 hour, or until they are tender
  9. Remove the dish from the oven
  10. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and mix it with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the potatoes, and return the dish to the oven
  11. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve while hot