Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Praise of Mashed Potatoes ~

Well, today I'm feeling guilty for putting so many chocolate recipes on here for you, so I'm giving you one of the all-time favorite comfort foods that IS very good for you--potatoes. There are so many different kinds of potatoes, which is a subject I won't go into. But I think these recipes and ideas will give you some ways to change up the potato dish which you serve so often. Americans are lovers of potatoes, but it never hurts to give a little different dash of flavor to an old favorite.

This information is in the February issue of Country Living magazine, which says: "What's not to love about these crowd-pleasing dynamos? They're versatile, delicious--not to mention downright cheap. Try Yukon golds in a cheesy gratin, braise fingerlings on the stovetop, and mash russets with everything from horseradish to prosciutto. Dig in!"

And here is a little tip: "For the fluffiest mashed potatoes, use super-starchy spuds like russets and skip the food processor--an old-fashioned masher or a ricer still works best." Another great tip for keeping mashed potatoes warm comes from Ina Garten: "Put them in a bowl set over simmering water and they'll stay warm for at least half an hour. Just note that the longer the vegetable sits over hot water, the more liquid you'll need to add." If it works for Ina, it'll work for you!

The Ultimate Mashed Potatoes

Makes 6 servings. Working time 10 minutes. Total time 40 minutes.

2 1/2  pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 1/2- inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup half-and-half, heated

  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with salted water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes thoroughly in a colander and return to the pot. Add melted butter and, using a potato masher, mash potatoes to desired consistency. (For a smoother texture, pass potatoes through a ricer instead.)
  3. Stir in half-and-half and 1 teaspoon salt to combine and until potatoes are creamy. Do not overstir or potatoes will become gluey. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot. To punch up this classic dish with savory add-ins, see below.
Five Scrumptious Mashed-Potato Variations                            

Whip up the Ultimate Mashed Potatoes, then stir in one of these mouthwatering flavor combinations.

  1. Fried Shallots and Creme Fraiche: In a medium skilled over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons oil. Fry 3 large, sliced shallots until browned and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. (Discard any shallots that over-brown.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Stir shallots and 1/3 cup creme fraiche (if you can't find creme fraiche, use sour cream) into the mashed potatoes.
  2. Prosciutto, Parmesan, and Parsley:  Stir 3 ounces prosciutto, cooked and chopped; 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (which is the very best, but you can use any Parmesan cheese) and 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley into the mashed potatoes.
  3. Horseradish, Sour Cream, and Freshly Ground Pepper:  Stir 1/2 cup finely grated fresh horseradish, 1/2 cup sour cream, and freshly ground pepper to taste into the mashed potatoes.
  4. Roquefort, Toasted Walnuts, and Sage:  Stir 4 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled; 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted; and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage into the mashed potatoes.
  5. Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms, Sherry, Dry Mustard, Heavy Cream, and Marjoram:  In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter. Saute 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons sweet sherry and cook until liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves. Cook until cream begins to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes more. Stir mushroom-cream mixture into the mashed potatoes.
This is enough for you to think about today! There are many recipes for delicious potato dishes, and tomorrow I'll share aother mashed potato recipe: Garlic Mashed Potatoes. But for now,  I hope you'll try some of these new ways of adding flavors to one of our favorite foods.

It's the middle of the week, so we're flying along pretty well. So now I hope you'll plan a nice dinner for the family that includes at least one of these delicious potato recipes. It's a whole new world for me, and I bet it's a whole new world for you too!



  1. Such good ideas to perk up potates Mimi,I think tomorrow I will try one of your suggestions with my mini meatloaves,Thanks:)

  2. Sounds like the perfect match, Sherrie! Potatoes seem to take extra ingredients so beautifully. I hope it is all delicious! Thanks so much for commenting.