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Every Thanksgiving I make my Sweet Potato Chiffon Pie.

ava gardner barefoot contessa movie stillmamie eisenhower portrait
Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa          Mamie Eisenhower, First Lady 1953-1961

I'm a big fan of the standard pumpkin pie, the one you make with the 15 ounce can of Libby's pumpkin and evaporated milk--it's the Mamie Eisenhower of pies--dependable, straightforward, not too rich or cloying.  But after all the mashed potates and bread stuffing and gravy, I need some glamour.  I like this recipe because like Ava (check out her museum) the daughter of a poor tobacco farmer from Grabtown North Carolina, it starts with the humble sweet potato and gets the Hollywood treatment. 

Actually, I love chiffon pies just for their name alone--lemon chiffon, raspberry chiffon, chocolate chiffon--they sound like the prom queens and exotic dancers who favor that sheer floaty fabric. (I like to think of the delicate lemon as the Donna Reed of chiffon pies.) But Sweet Potato chiffon is my own concoction (adapted from a Marion Cunningham recipe) and my favorite for the way the  earthiness of the sweet potato melds so delectably with the airy gelatin, whipped egg whites and cream.   Adding bourbon to the recipe just heightens the effect.

I wish I could post an image of this pie, but all I have right now is a debauched slice three days old, with the beautiful whipped cream rosettes mashed down and the crust broken. The glamour shot will have to wait--