Thanksgiving Files: Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I was looking through the archives trying to decide which recipes to repeat and this one caught my eye, mostly because I had totally forgotten this cooking method. So reposting as an idea for your holiday dinner. For all the Thanksgiving recipes, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

I’m never going to turn away mashed potatoes.  Ever.  But I do have a favorite style – unpeeled and hand mashed potatoes.  I love creamy ones too, but with a good gravy, the hearty ones really hold up.

A while I ago I wrote about a mistake I made cooking potatoes and how I used a recipe I remembered from a few weeks before to save them.  Well, I decided to try it for real this time.  I could not track down the recipe, but did the best I could with what I remembered.  I must have remembered pretty well.  They turned out great.

This recipe uses unpeeled potatoes, but you can peel them and whip them for creamy mashed potatoes suitable for the fanciest Thanksgiving table.  And don’t be startled, but you don’t boil the potatoes either, you cook them in cream and butter. Yummy.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of butter
  • 4-6 small garlic gloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 to 8 medium potatoes (russet or yukon gold work best)

4-qt saucepan

Add half & half, water, butter and garlic cloves to the pan and turn heat to low and let butter melt and liquid heat.  Meanwhile, scrub potatoes well and cut small (not diced, but smaller than 1-inch cubes).  Add to liquid and turn heat to high.  Stir constantly until liquid begins to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and turn the heat lower if it looks like they might stick – if you feel like you need more liquid, add half & half.  There is so much water in the potatoes, this technique works really well.  And the potatoes are extremely creamy because you haven’t soaked them in water.  When they are tender, turn off heat and mash to desired constancy.

Originally posted November 2011

Some post-holiday snow

Not quite in time for the holiday, and it looks like it will melt soon enough to not be a bother.

I don’t think I bothered to turn the clock in the camera back at the end of DST, so the time is an hour ahead of the clocks here in the house.

Looks like an entire holiday meal has gone by and I haven’t mentioned it here.  Just this one photo:I roasted a small chunk of lamb (~3lbs) after an overnight marinade in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.   A couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary were rubbed over it and it cooked at 350 for just over an hour, to an internal temp of ~150.  It sat out with a loose tent of foil as it rested and I did my last minute flurry of table setting.  There was enough well done to satisfy Mrs J and the rest was rare enough to suit me.

I cooked some white potatoes with a diced parsnip in cream and butter and a couple of cloves of garlic.  They were great.  The gravy was made from turkey necks and chicken giblets with some home made chicken stock and with lamb drippings stirred in.  Also on the plate are some sprouts roasted with garlic and olive oil.  Serious good veggies even if you don’t care for steamed or boiled sprouts – these are just not the same thing.  Let them brown a bit, you will love them.

The little bowl in the background is a dipping sauce for the lamb, and it was good on the sprouts too.  I reduced the juice of half a lemon and a quarter cup of white wine with some minced onion and garlic and chopped fresh rosemary, then stirred in a stick of cold butter a pat at a time.  A final touch was a good squirt of Dijon mustard.  Yummy

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

You should know I’ve been trying to write this post for the past 4 days.  Life has not cooperated.   I expected this week to be quiet, but that has not been the case.  It is all good, so I’m not complaining in the least.  I’m just wishing things would stop see-sawing between excruciatingly boring and Indy 500 speeds.

Okay, so Christmas dinner turned out fabulously.  The rib roast was perfect, the gravy a very nice flavor if a bit lumpy and the potatoes were excellent.  So I thought I’d take this week and write what I did with each item.  Starting with the mashed potatoes.

There are several steps to making perfect mashed potatoes every time.

Step 1: Start with russet potatoes.  The texture makes for fluffy, flavorful mashed potatoes.

I use red potatoes for baking (very moist) and occasionally Yukon golds (never been a big fan) in stews and soup.

Step 2: Scrub well, don’t peel and then cube.  I know this can be controversial. But I think the skins add a nice overall flavor, and do I need to remind you they are packed with vitamins?  Okay then.  Don’t peel.

This is the newest model comparable to the one I own.  Pretty.

Step 3: Steam, don’t boil.  I do this in a pressure cooker, but you can do it in any saucepan.  Put a steamer basket or small rack in the bottom of the saucepan, add potatoes, add just enough water to cover the bottom layer of potatoes.  If you’re not using a pressure cooker, check the water often and add more as needed.  The rack keeps you from scorching the potatoes if you let the water get too low.  Cook until tender.

Step 4: Drain the water (I keep mine for gravy), remove the rack and return the potatoes to back to the saucepan. Now put the saucepan on the burner, turn the burner on briefly until all the water in the bottom of the pan is gone.  Don’t walk away, this is a quick process, but it keeps your potatoes from being watery.

Step 5: Warm milk and butter before adding to the potatoes.  I make sure the butter has melted in the milk before adding.  I used 1/2 cup of milk for 8 potatoes.  I used just a tablespoon of butter because I’m all about the gravy.  Use as much butter, salt and pepper as you desire.

Step 6: Mash well with a hand masher.  When you have unpeeled potatoes, this is your best option.  Gives you the best consistency, not creamy, but smooth and fluffy.  Great for holding gravy (did I mention I’m all about the gravy?).

Keep them warm until time to serve.  This is made much easier because the milk and butter were warmed before adding.  Other things you may want to add:  roasted garlic, sour cream (reduce milk or butter to keep consistency), cheddar cheese, jalapeños (cheddar cheese-jalapeño mashed potatoes are a favorite – no gravy), or bleu cheese.