They come from far and near, to gather together. Family, friends–and for those who lack either: the community of those with big hearts to share both. Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve gathered here not just the original recipe for Senator Russell’s Sweet Potatoes, but am also including links for more dishes to grace your giving table. Enjoy! Jalapeno Creamed Spinach , Sunchokes Two Ways , homemade sausage and sage stuffing, Roasted Bone Poultry Gravy , Marvelous Mashed Potatoes Spiced Butternut Squash Pie, Southern Sweet Potato Pie, Chocolate French Silk Pie and Butterscotch Pecan Meringue Pie.
Senator Russell’s Sweet Potato Casserole
Calling down to Georgia’s State Capitol offices and the Culinary History Society of Georgia, nobody could comment on the gustatorial habits of Richard B. Russell, Jr. (1897 – 1971), the famous politician this much-requested dish is named for. (In case you need a refresher, RBR was in public office for 50 years as a legislator, governor of Georgia and U.S. Senator, was best known as national defense expert, and was proudest of his work advocating for the small farmer and for soil and water conservation. Russell also authored and secured passage of the National School Lunch Program in 1946.) But tracking down this recipe, one thing is sure: Richard Russell had a sweet tooth. His favorite sweetie pie of a sweet potato casserole—a mainstay going back for generations on Southern holiday tables, includes from two to three cups of sugar. That, plus plenty of butter and pecans, makes this more of a dessert than a side dish. Be forewarned: the butter-crunchy pecan crust and smooth, whipped sweets beneath are addictive.
It took a little sleuthing to find the original recipe, but I found it from Nicolette Bruner, who got it from her husband’s grandmother, Stella Roberts Russell, one of Senator Russell’s cousins. It has about half the butter, a quarter of the milk and a third of the sugar used in the second version I’m also publishing here, from Victoria Osteen, of Houston, TX. Victoria’s mom’s family comes from Georgia and says their version of the recipe goes way back on their traditional holiday menu.
- Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes Version 1 (from Russell Family) Ingredients
- 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) melted butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 stick melted butter
- Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes Version 2 (Victoria Osteen's Recipe) Ingredients
- 10 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 2 cups firmly-packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
- Version one: Mix first six ingredients well and place in a buttered 8 x 10 or 9 x 13 casserole dish. Mix brown sugar, flour, nuts and melted butter and sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbling.
- Version two: Preheat oven to 350. Bake sweet potatoes until soft, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool, peel and mash potatoes. Force the mashed potatoes through a sieve or ricer to remove threads. Combine sweet potatoes with beaten eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk and melted butter. Spread mixture in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Mix brown sugar, flour, melted butter and pecans. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes and bake for 50 minutes until topping is bubbling.