We’re sure every family has a Thanksgiving tradition — whether it’s your Aunt Carol’s Walnut-Celery Jello Ring or your Mummy’s Famous Pecan Pie. At Chef Terri’s house, the Yammy Gobblers take center stage alongside the Stuffed Pumpkin and the turkey (of course).
Every tradition has a beginning. These roasted yams, wrapped in foil shaped to resemble a turkey, were inspired from a childhood memory:
Imagine it’s 1977, and your 7-year-old self has just had dinner with your parents at Smith & Wollensky in New York. You weren’t able to finish your entire meal, so your friendly waiter offers to pack up your leftovers into a Bowser Bag. You nodded, from the goading of your parents; and your obedience was rewarded with the presentation of your leftovers wrapped in aluminum foil shaped like a bright and shiny magical swan. Breathless, you thanked your waiter for the lovely and elegant prize which you cradled in your hands all the way home to place in the fridge. (and then the next day you wept bitterly when you discovered your dad satisfied his midnight craving by finishing off your meal, and left the ripped up remains of the beautiful swan on the counter for you to find in the morning).
But we digress.
Chef Terri pays homage to her beloved foil swan by featuring Yammy Gobblers on the Thanksgiving Feast menu. You can use any roast yam or sweet potato recipe you like; Chef Terri roasts yam with aromatic ingredients like orange zest and cinnamon in ceramic ramekins and wraps the packages up in foil shaped like turkeys. The presentation can be downright adorable. According to one family member, it’s not Thanksgiving unless the Yammy Gobblers are served.
Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s tradition. Who’s going to mess with tradition?
Serves 6 to 8
4 medium-sized yams, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
Zest and juice of 2 navel oranges
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup Maple syrup (grade B – or the darkest color you can find)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
pinch each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 6-8 4-ounce ramekins
- heavy duty aluminum foil
- baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 425 ℉
Butter each ramekin all over the insides and bottom and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, toss the yams with the orange juice, zest, ginger, syrup, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg until the yams are well coated. Evenly divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins.
Wrap each ramekin with a sheet of foil, folding and crimping each end to represent the turkey’s head, neck and tail. Cut the fringes on the tail to represent the tail feathers.
Place the turkeys on a baking sheet and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, or until fragrantly caramelized. The yams are done with a knife inserted into one slides in with no resistance (though you’ll have to unwrap a sacrificial turkey to test that!)
Allow the turkeys to cool slightly for about 15 minutes before serving (if the turkeys are too hot, the steam escaping from them when you open them may burn you). Let each guest unwrap his own yammy gobbler. The aroma from the steam coming out is quite heady.