North Carolina and Georgia might produce more sweet potatoes and pecans, respectively, than any other states in the South, but a good case can be made that the “cured” Beauregard sweet potatoes and buttery Centennial pecans grown in Louisiana offer a flavor that is in a class by itself. In my experience, this spicy, vanilla-flavored pudding, traditionally served with roasted meat and game dishes, is unique to Louisiana. Just remember never to buy freshly harvested “green” sweet potatoes in the summer, since they still lack the enzyme that converts starch to sugar, and that the best fresh Southern pecans are never available till around October. If ever there was a Southern dish that depended on the season for optimal savor, it’s this noble pudding.
Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer till very tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and, when cool enough to handle, peel, place in a large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher. (Do not use a food processor.)
Add the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, and cinnamon to the mashed potatoes, stir till well blended, and transfer the mixture to a large baking dish or casserole. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar and flour and stir till well blended. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry cutter till the mixture is mealy. Add the pecans and stir till well blended. Distribute the pecan mixture evenly over top of the pudding and
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