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Kentucky Bourbon Sweet Potatoes From WLRN's News Director

The completed product of Terence Shepherd's Kentucky bourbon sweet potatoes.
Terence Shepherd
The completed product of Terence Shepherd's Kentucky bourbon sweet potatoes.

This particular recipe found its way into my family through a recipe book. Not actually a book. My mom had a container full of cards, like the ones they have (used to have?) at Publix. My mom and her mom both had these containers with a plastic, transparent cover. I think they got a couple of recipe cards in the mail each month.

I grew up in a great neighborhoodin the West End of Louisville, Ky. Nearly “everyone” already knew how to make Kentucky bourbon sweet potatoes. It’s Kentucky, right? But I’m not a natural with the culinary arts. I need instructions and can’t just wing it by adding a “pinch” of this or a “little bit” of that, so having a recipe was a big help.

My parents and grandparents served it often, usually around special family dinners like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. And I personally took a greater interest in this recipe after my parents moved to Delray Beach in 1990. That’s when I started making it myself.

I’ve shared it with many coworkers, at office potlucks and at church. For some reason, I get more feedback on the bourbon than the sweet potatoes.



3 1/2 pounds of Bruce's yams (Or just get one 40 ounce can and one 29 ounce can. Of course, you can get the real deal sweet potatoes and peel and cook...)

1 cup of brown sugar (The original recipe calls for white sugar but I switched to brown sugar a few years ago. Also, it calls for one cup but I've ramped that down a bit)

1/3 cup of bourbon (The quantity of bourbon varies depending on the audience...)

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

About 2 cups of mini marshmallows


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Cook potatoes 6 minutes in the microwave

3. Drain liquid from potatoes

4. Add sugar, bourbon, butter, vanilla

5. Mash potatoes if you like them more homestyle or beat them in a blender for a creamy texture

6. Put mixture into 2-quart dish

7. Put marshmallows on top

8. Bake 25-30 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown

Terence Shepherd is news director at WLRN News, the public radio news outlet serving Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. He is past chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association and current chair of the organization's foundation.
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