Mama Dip’s has been a Chapel Hill fixture for more than 40 years — and everyone has their favorite dishes. Fried pork chops. Chicken and dumplings. Macaroni and cheese. Then
Mama Dip’s has been a Chapel Hill fixture for more than 40 years — and everyone has their favorite dishes. Fried pork chops. Chicken and dumplings. Macaroni and cheese. Then there’s dessert. Banana pudding. Cream cheese pound cake. Pecan pie. The last is particularly popular — founder Mildred “Mama Dip” Cotton Council even made it on Good Morning America in the ’90s — but if you ask the Council family about one of their favorite pies, they’ll tell you: sweet potato. “It was something we had all the time — Sunday suppers, church homecomings, Thanksgiving, Christmas,” Mildred’s daughter Spring remembers. The sweet potato pie sells well, she explains, “because we’re one of the few restaurants where you can find it.”
Like pumpkin pie, Mama Dip’s sweet potato pie has a custardy filling made with milk, eggs, and melted butter, plus warm spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. But unlike pumpkin pie, which often relies on canned puree, the sweet potatoes are boiled until tender, then mashed until smooth. It’s this sort of handmade touch — literally — that sets Mama Dip’s apart. “Growing up, we were always in the kitchen with Mama, watching her cook,” Spring says. “That’s how she taught us, by touch and feel.”
408 West Rosemary Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Yield: 8 servings.
1½ pounds sweet potatoes
1½ sticks of butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (recipes makes enough batter for two pies)
Wash the sweet potatoes and place them in a pot, covered with water. Bring to boil.
When the potatoes are soft (after about 45 minutes), drain, cool, and peel. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the potatoes in a large bowl along with the butter and sugar, combining well. Add eggs. Stir in the spices, vanilla, and milk.
Pour into the pie shell.
Bake in a 375º oven for 45 minutes or until the center is firm.