Yam Gratin in Traditional Cook Stoneware

In this post I’m killing two birds with one Stoneware.  First up, I was notified that Canadian Thanksgiving was soon approaching, and I wanted to become the first American ever to acknowledge Canada’s existence by cooking up my holiday favorite in preparation for Canadian Thanksgiving next week.  Hope this one becomes a Canadian tradition.  I leave it up to the dozen or so Canadians that will read this post to make this a viral holiday treat. 

Secondly, a big 180 follower and fan – and also a long-time Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter leader Maria Atwood of www.traditionalcook.com sent me a free piece of her amazing Stoneware.  This stuff is awesome.  I didn’t know what to expect, but the stoneware exceeded all my expectations.  This is far superior to any type of baking material I’ve ever used before, and there’s no way I’ll use glass Pyrex or Aluminum pans for baking ever again. 

The Stoneware is very heavy, which creates perfectly-even heating.  It also has a rough, sandpapery surface that keeps food like this gratin from sticking to the pan while giving it a crisper crust all in one shot.  Ooh, it came out so nice.  I highly recommend Maria’s stoneware, which is totally affordable and ships within just a few days.  CLICK HERE to view all the different stoneware pieces Maria has for sale and get yours before she runs out of her holiday inventory.   

Anyway, here is the video for my favorite starchy, seasonal holiday side dish – a savory, rather than marshmallowy and sweetened “sweet tater” dish that many of us fear having to eat at those holiday occasions.  Seasoned with cayenne, lots of salt, garlic, and ideally tarragon (damn you grocery store!), this does not have the grotesque sweetness of any yam/sweet potato dish you’ve been served in the past. 


  • 5 yams or sweet potatoes, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 bunch chopped tarragon
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • Lots of cayenne pepper and lots of salt (more than you would think)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans


  1. Make the “sauce” by whisking the cream, half and half, garlic, and seasonings all together in a large bowl.  Add enough salt to where the cream mixture has a noticeably-salty flavor.
  2. Mix the cream mixture with the sliced yams/sweet potatoes until each slice is somewhat coated.
  3. Grease a Stoneware rectangle pan with butter.
  4. Pour in the sliced yams and cream, spread evenly throughout the pan, and pack down tightly.
  5. Add a little additional half and half if yams are not at least half submerged. 
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and poke a few holes in it before placing in the oven at 425 degrees F. 
  7. Bake for at least 45 minutes then reduce heat to 375 and bake for an additional 15 minutes or so, or until yams are fully softened. 
  8. Remove aluminum foil and pack the yams down again with the back of a large spoon or spatula.  Add chopped pecans and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until pecans are crispy.
  9. Remove from oven and let it cool and settle for at least 20 minutes before slicing into squares and serving. 

This goes great with just about anything, and is certainly not something I serve only on holidays.  In fact, having a baking dish full of nice squares of starch portions makes for very convenient meals throughout the week or on the go for work. 

Big thanks to Maria Atwood for this awesome baking dish!  www.traditionalcook.com

You can read more about why Maria is so into her Stoneware baking dishes at http://traditionalcook.com/Stoneware-Article.pdf

And about the virtues of Stoneware for baking here:  http://traditionalcook.com/more-stoneware-popup.shtml

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yep Thanksgiving weekend it is! If I don’t make the above, we will certainly be making the 180 gravy recipe. Creamy grits for breakfasts too!

    • That’s my boy!

  2. Yum!

  3. Thanks Matt for following up my request. I’ll omit the pecans(their kinda pricey) but I’ll definitely make this a canadian thanksgiving tradition. What proportion of roasted garlic would you use?
    Also, any tips on roasting a duck? We’re probably doing the classic duck l’orange after brining

    • If omitting the pecans I suggest a classic gratinee topping, which is a mix of bread crumbs and parmigiano reggiano cheese (grated) – about 2/3 bread crumbs in the mix.

      As for the duck, I recommend starting it out at very high temperature, like 500 degrees, to brown the outer layer of fat. Then reduce the heat and cook very slowly, covered, at 250 degrees F until done. http://180degreehealth.blogspot.com/2007/05/roasting-whole-birds.html

  4. Ontario, born and raised. Thanks for the shout out!

    • No problem homey, even though I know how you say “shout out” is probably all kinds a messed up with that Canadian accent!

      • haha “shoot ewt” to use a little onomatopoeia

  5. This turned out so awesome I may make it again next week. The slight spicy, licorice taste accompanied the richness of the duck perfectly despite being rich on its own. We also cooked the duck the opposite way, low heat to render the fat, then blasting for the crispy skin.

    • Hell yeah. When you get the gratin right, and yes it takes some practice… I used to make 5-15 of these per night at a 4-star restaurant, so I’ve had plenty of practice on tasting that cream mixture and knowing when the seasoning is just right. Sounds like you nailed it though.

  6. Another not to sweet one: One of my favorite quick and easy meals is mashed yams with browned andoille sausage mixed in. You can fancy and stick it a casserole under a broiler with a gratinee, for a holiday preparation.

    • That sounds pretty wicked. I’ve eaten my fare share of andouille, and I bet that spice is a great counter to them there sweet taters.

  7. Made this last night and the boy ate a bowl the size of his head. I like how it tastes almost like pumpkin. It has a very autumnal squash-y feeling. Extremely filling too. I ate a small portion and that was all I ate for dinner last night. Bonus, I figured out how to use the thin slice blade on my food processor. Potato gratin and Irish stew are going to be a lot easier now.

    • It is funny how truly autumnal it is. You said it right. And yes, it’s like the ultimate in kick back, smile, and put hands on belly factor – even if eating only a small piece.

  8. Oh man. That sounds delicious, too. WHY didn’t I know about you sooner??

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