With Thanksgiving over and Christmas on the horizon, it is time to take stock of how the Thanksgiving dinner went. That way we can make adjustments to our menus for the upcoming feast in about a month's time. If you're like me, you'll be serving turkey again and, chances are, you are counting on fluffy mashed potatoes to fill your hungry family’s bellies. Before you finalize your shopping list, though, take a moment to check out this scrumptious-looking recipe for one of America’s favorite side-dishes.
Andy Baraghani senior food editor for “Bon Appétit” magazine, shows us how to raise the caliber of our mashed potatoes, using only a few simple ingredients. It’s not as hard as it sounds! I’m definitely going for it!
Begin by selecting the type of potatoes you prefer; Russet or Yukon Gold are two favorites - either will work well. There are good reasons for either type; just choose the potato that has the flavor you and your family prefer. This recipe calls for about four pounds of potatoes, regardless of the type you choose.
Place the potatoes (unskinned) in a large pot and cover with 1-2 inches of cold water. The potatoes will heat more evenly this way than if you add them to water that is already boiling.
Add a generous amount of salt to the water and allow it all to come to a boil. Simmer 30-35 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, it is time to prepare the creamy part of the recipe. Andy recommends using 2 cups liquid (any combination of whole milk and heavy cream, depending on your preference), and some sort of savory herb. Andy uses Rosemary, but I would probably choose something along the lines of Bay Leaf or Parsley.
You will be using an entire head of garlic, not chopped, but cut in half to expose the cloves. Place all of these ingredients in a saucepan and heat for about five minutes; do not let the mixture boil but merely allow the flavors to blend through gentle heating.
The potatoes should be done at this point; if you poke them and there is no resistance, you have cooked them perfectly! Drain the potatoes and gently rinse them to remove any starch that remains on the skins. Then, return them to the same pan; the residual heat will serve to dry the potatoes.
Andy recommends using a ricer for “mashing” the cooked potatoes. If you don’t have a ricer, you can employ the old-fashioned method of mashing them with a fork. If you like your potatoes extremely creamy, it seems that the ricer will get you there more readily. If you prefer them with more substance, like my family does, (the skins and even a few lumps are welcomed at my table!) then a coarser instrument for mashing is in order.
Once the potatoes are “mashed” you will mix in two sticks (one cup) unsalted butter - at room-temperature to ensure that the butter will melt easily. Work it in gently, no vigorous blending is needed.Gradually add the warm liquid and stir lightly after each addition, being careful not to over-mix. Add salt to taste.
Gradually add the warm liquid and stir lightly after each addition, being careful not to over-mix. Add salt to taste.
When the potatoes have attained the desired texture, add pepper to taste and serve! The best part about this recipe is that it can be prepared the day ahead without losing any of its quality, so you can have more time to spend with family and friends on the actual day of the feast.
With one important side dish under your belt, you can now move on to the turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and pumpkin pie. More important than the food, however, is remembering to count the blessings we have enjoyed throughout the year, most importantly the love of the family and friends with whom we are sharing this fabulous feast. Happy Holidays to you and yours!