In Garfield’s Thanksgiving, Grandma saves Jon’s disastrous date with Liz by covertly preparing Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the best part of the TV special, which should go without saying since Grandma Arbuckle is the best part of anything in which she participates.
While Jon entertains Liz in the living room, Grandma whips up everything from turkey croquettes to “split second” cranberry sauce. My favorite dish, though, had to be her sweet potatoes — made with a cup of butter, a cup of brown sugar and enough marshmallows to play checkers with.
I’ve spent thirty years dreaming about Grandma’s sweet potatoes, which is impressive considering that I’m not a sweet potato guy by any stretch. It’s just the power of Grandma Arbuckle, y’know? Total influencer!
Cutting to the chase, this weekend I decided to recreate Grandma’s sweet potatoes, even if it’s more of a sweet potato casserole. If you’d like to do the same, follow these instructions:
You will need:
– 6-8 large sweet potatoes
– Brown sugar (dark, I guess)
– Jumbo marshmallows
Before we begin, I gotta state for the record that I was striving for Grandma Accuracy, here. Which meant that I wouldn’t adjust her given quantities, nor would I add any of the spices typical for this dish. While the final results were indeed delicious, I can’t claim that there isn’t room to “edit” if you’re more about balanced flavors and less about deifying Grandma Arbuckle.
Step #1: Peel and cook the potatoes.
I don’t know if I’ve ever peeled potatoes before this weekend. Never had a reason to. I was shocked to discover that we even had a peeler, even if I didn’t recognize it at first. I figured it was like, a broken corkscrew from some long ago IKEA set or something.
After you peel them, it’s time to cook the suckers. You could also cook them before you peel them, like many normal people do. I don’t know. Go with God.
Since we’re trying to match Grandma’s speed, I recommend just nuking the fuckers until they’re soft. They don’t need to be completely done, but at least get them to the point where they’re easy to slice.
You can bake them if you prefer, or even just boil them. (Personally, I’d advise against boiling because it’s going to add more liquid to this dish, and you really don’t need that with a bucket of butter on the horizon.)
Step #2: Slice the potatoes and prepare the extras.
Similar recipes call for the potatoes to be mashed, or at least cut into bite-sized chunks. In Garfield’s Thanksgiving, though, Grandma’s potatoes are simply sliced, with the potatoes still retaining their basic potato shape.
If you’re kneeling at the altar of Grandma Accuracy, do it that way. In the same casserole dish that you plan to bake these in, slice the potatoes, but leave them in place.
Next, prepare one cup of melted butter and one cup of brown sugar. It’s time to make a mess!
Step #3: Hide the potatoes with awesome garbage.
You’ll notice that I instructed you to use 6-8 sweet potatoes, despite only using four myself. That’s because Grandma Accuracy dictates that you must use ONE FULL CUP of butter. (Also, to be fair, Grandma used six sweet potatoes herself.)
The more potatoes you use, the less “soupy” this will be. You’re going to be baking them shortly, and the butter is going to merge with whatever liquid is hiding in the potatoes. (Of course, using less potatoes means that each one will be more buttery, so it’s a matter of gross preference, I suppose.)
Add the cup of brown sugar, and mix it together as well as you can without disturbing the potatoes’ placement. When you’re done, it should look like a dead sea animal washed up on the beach.
Now it’s time to add the marshmallows. Grandma used big ones and a whole lot of them, so that’s what I did. My marshmallows were huge to the point of obscenity, but you can use slightly smaller ones if you want. Just don’t use mini marshmallows, as that is a high crime in the Church of Grandma Accuracy.
Step #4: Bake it until you make it.
Bake at 325 degrees for as long as the marshmallows can stand it. (This is why it’s important for your potatoes to be mostly precooked. Marshmallows roast a whole lot faster than potatoes do!)
If you wanna bake the buttered-and-sugared potatoes for a little while before adding the marshmallows, you can. We never see Grandma actually cook the potatoes, so there is room for interpretation on the Grandma Accuracy front.
Leave the dish in the oven until the marshmallows have become all oozy with browned tops. Push it as far as you can without letting the marshmallows burn.
Step #5: Set it on the table!
When finished, your casserole should look like mine. Or at least something like mine. A field of snow-covered boulders hiding an army of sopping wet sweet potato slices. When it’s time to serve, use a slotted spatula, and make sure you say “slotted spatula” out loud when you do. It’s fun as shit.
Step #6: EAT.
So here’s the deal. This is a hurried, strange preparation of a classic Thanksgiving side dish. The fundamentals are similar, but I don’t know if you’ll find a single recipe from a reputed source that does it quite like this.
And yeah, there are good reasons for that. If you cut the potatoes smaller or simply mashed them, the flavors would blend more elegantly. If you let the casserole bake without the marshmallows for a while first, they’d have more time to merge with the butter and sugar. If you added cinnamon or nutmeg, that’d only improve things, too.
All that said? This was DELICIOUS. Absolutely decadent. It’s dessert masquerading as a side dish. I only allowed myself a few forkfuls, and even that was enough to make me pull a Violet Beauregarde. It felt much closer to eating pie than eating potatoes.
This was a wonderful way to kick off my holiday season. I mean, Grandma Arbuckle is the secret patron saint of the holidays anyway, so anything done in her name is super on-point for November and December.
Oh, and in case anyone’s wondering: Yes, as far as anyone knows, Grandma Arbuckle is still alive. Must be all of that selenium from the yams.