Quarantine Kitchen: A local twist on a classic holiday recipe

by | Dec 14, 2020

Chef Mary Jayne Wilson

This year has been full of unprecedented times and situations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families and individuals will be cooking at home this holiday season. That’s why we are bringing the dishes to you all month long in our Quarantine Kitchen series. We talked to twenty-three chefs who willingly shared some of their favorite dishes to prepare for the holidays. Stay tuned Dec. 1 through 24 on the blog as well as our social media channels for a new dish to feature in your home each day and let’s get cooking!

Chef Mary Jayne Wilson has had a love of cooking ever since she was a little girl. After obtaining her culinary degree at Johnson and Wales University, she worked as a chef for a variety of companies, including Pastry Chef at MEZ Restaurant. Currently, life is taking Mary down an exciting new avenue as she looks toward opening her own pot pie business. Be sure to keep an eye out and support her when it opens!

With her experience in cooking, especially desserts, Chef Wilson has provided us with a local twist on a classic holiday recipe with her Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. Stock up on local ingredients, such as sweet potatoes and pecans, at your closest farmers market, roadside farm stand or other retailer. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Yields: 2 pies, each pie serves 8 to 10 people


  • Pie Dough:         
    • 1.5 sticks (12 tablespoons) very cold, unsalted butter
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • ½ very cold vegetable shortening
  • Sweet Potato Filling:
    • 4 ounces brown sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
    • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 whole eggs
    • 2 to 3 N.C. sweet potatoes (depending on size)
  • Pecan Filling:
    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 cups chopped or halved N.C. pecans
    • 1 tablespoon bourbon
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 3 eggs


  • Pie Dough:         
    1. Dice the butter and shortening into tiny pieces and put back into the fridge or freezer until you are ready to use it. Put flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add cold butter and shortening and pulse 8 to 10 times until the fats are pea sized.
    2. While the blade is running, pour the water into the machine until the dough forms. Take out dough and wrap it in plastic wrap and let refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours ahead of time, before rolling out.
    3. Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a countertop dusted with flour, to keep it from sticking.
    4. To get the rolled dough into the pie pan, fold in half or quarter and lay in the pan and unfold. Using a fork or your finger, create the look you want on the edge of the crust.
  • Sweet Potato Filling:
    1. Wash sweet potatoes. Place on a sheet pan and bake for an hour or until done. They should be soft and a fork can easily penetrate the potato.
    2. Allow the potatoes to cool completely. Remove the skins and place them into a mixing bowl.
    3. Combine brown sugar, spices and eggs to add to the potatoes. Mix in the vanilla extract.
    4. Mix until sweet potatoes are smooth and creamy and until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Pecan Filling:
    1. In a medium pot, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.
    2. Bring to a boil over medium heat and don’t stop stirring while over the heat. Continue to boil for 1 minute.
    3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon and vanilla.
    4. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about five minutes.
    5. Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth.
  • To build the pie:
    1. Roll out pie dough and line your pie tin. Set aside.
    2. Make the sweet potato bake following the recipe below.
    3. Spread the sweet potato mixture over the pie crust in an even flat layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until sweet potato is set. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
    4. Make the pecan filling and set aside.
    5. Spread the pecans over the sweet potato filling. Slowly and gently pour pecan filling over the top.
    6. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until completely done. It is done when the pecan mixture does not cave in when pressed lightly.
    7. Let cool completely before serving. Can be made up to two days before and freezes well for up to two weeks.
    8. Best served with fresh whipped cream.
Chef Mary Jayne Wilson