Ginger Sweet Potatoes

Today is President’s Day. We learned that supposedly George Washington’s favorite meal was mashed Sweet Potatoes. This reminded us of one of our favorite sweet potato recipes. Here is the story behind the recipe.

For a while, before we started our own business and she became too busy, Laura was a member of the Santa Barbara Assistance League, which is a wonderful non-profit, all volunteer organization with 17 philanthropic initiatives, helping local men, women, and children of all ages.

Tradition has it that each year, the new incoming members create a menu and prepare a meal for all the other members. This year the main protein was ham, so we wanted to prepare something complementary. Our son James actually came up with this recipe, probably based on something he learned from culinary school, which he was attending at the  time. So several of the freshman ladies came over to the house and James, Jim, and Laura worked together with the ladies to create a hug amount of this for a group of over 100 ladies. It was really fun. Plus it holds well and reheats easily, so it is a good make-ahead dish.

On that day George Washington was in great company, all 100 members pronounced the luncheon a great success and demanded James provide them with the recipe. He wrote it and it was written up the that’s month’s Assistance League Newsletter.

We have made this several times since, usually on Thanksgiving or Christmas.


Author: Chef James R. Kirkley IV

Served to Assistance League of Santa Barbara, CA

Serves: 10

Ginger Sweet Potatoes


2 1/2 pounds, Sweet Potatoes/Yams – scrubbed
3 tablespoons, unsalted butter –¬†heaping
1 1/2 tablespoons, fresh ginger (do not substitute, ginger must be fresh) – grated
1/3 cup, brown sugar (depending on sweetness of potato/yam, amount of brown sugar should be increased or decreased)
Salt and pepper to taste (don’t skip the pepper, pepper creates great contrast taste to brown sugar)
1/2 cup, pecans (optional but adds to the appearance and presentation of dish) – toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Place the whole sweet potatoes or yam in a large pot and cover (plus an inch) with water.
  3. Bring to boil and cover
  4. Adjust heat to maintain a fast simmer, continue to boil until potato is soft and tender, about 30 minutes
  5. Drain and allow to cool slightly
  6. Peel and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  7. In a small skillet, melt butter until shimmery, allow to cool
  8. Add the ginger and brown sugar to cooled butter
  9. Add the butter mixture to cooked sweet potato/yams and stir well
  10. Potatoes will have a “Chunky Applesauce” consistency
  11. Season to taste and stir well again
  12. Transfer to a lightly buttered baking dish
  13. Cover with foil (at this point you can hold the dish until ready to serve)
  14. Bake for about 45 minutes or an hour
  15. Remove the foil, stir and continue to bake for another 15 minutes
  16. Serve immediately with a heavy dusting of toasted of pecans


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