As I’ve mentioned in my last posts, I’m on a campaign to vary Thanksgiving dinners at my place. I do realize, however, that there is only so much leeway to be had. I wouldn’t swap out the turkey for some other fowl, nor would I replace the stuffing with wild rice, and I certainly wouldn’t serve dinner without preparing mashed potatoes — although serving the potatoes has proven to be a bit problematic. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of mashed potato recipes that, although not bad, were just not good enough to be the “go to” recipe for Thanksgiving. Then, about 6 years ago, I watched Alton Brown prepare these potatoes and it was love at first sight. Now this is the only way I make mashed potatoes and my dinner guests are very pleased that I do.
Before detailing the recipe, I feel the need to explain my statement about serving potatoes being problematic. (I apologize to those who may have already read a brief recounting of this story in a previous post’s comments.) The apartment I rented before buying my home was what they called “vintage.” The building itself contained three, 3 bedroom apartments, was Victorian in style, and each contained the original unpainted, woodwork, beamed ceilings, original leather wainscoting in the dining rooms, and the original built-in china hutch in each dining room. Yes, the living rooms and dining rooms were really quite beautiful but, walk down the hall and you entered a kitchen nightmare. Saying that they wanted to “keep it vintage” — we tenants quickly learned that the landlords were just plain cheap — none of the kitchens had any counter space whatsoever. Each had a sink like the one pictured below and that drain board was the only “counter” to be found. There were only 2 small cupboards, as well, and they were located above the sink. To be fair, there was an adjoining pantry but it was of little use when pulling something out of the oven, unloading groceries or, I dunno, just pouring a cup of coffee in the morning.
I moved into that apartment in August and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I’d only found one table that I liked for the kitchen. It was an old kitchen work table with a flour bin drawer and underneath was enough space for my pots & pans. Best of all, it offered a tabletop surface that I so desperately needed. That first Thanksgiving was going swimmingly. My friends had already finished their pasta and were working on their salads. I was in the kitchen getting everything assembled for the final push. While clearing the salad plates, rather uncharacteristically, I actually remembered the rolls were in the oven and, with counter space at a premium, placed the hot baking sheet full of toasty rolls atop the bowl of mashed potatoes. I served the dinner and, by all accounts, it was very well-received. In fact, near the end of the main course, one friend mentioned that he didn’t even mind not having mashed potatoes. Huh? Sure enough, my potatoes were still in the kitchen, on the table with a now empty baking sheet covering them. Laughing, I served them, more to prove that I did make them than for any other reason. To their credit, my guests all did have some, although I wouldn’t say that they were especially thrilled to see mashed potatoes served so late in the game. Cheesecake, yes. Mashed potatoes, no.
That recipe was destined to be forgotten because once I saw today’s recipe prepared, I never made any other kind. It is certainly my kind of dish, easy to make with very little room for error — so long as you don’t lose ’em in the kitchen. All you do is steep some garlic in heavy cream and combine that cream with some boiled potatoes. Add a little cheese & butter, and the result is a dish of mashed potatoes with a delicious garlic flavor throughout. Just be aware that when you add the last of the cream, it very well may look like there’s been too much added. Never fear. Just give it a good stir and let it rest. Within minutes, the cream is absorbed and you’ll end up with a beautiful dish of creamy, garlic mashed potatoes.
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Garlic Mashed Potatoes Recipe
- 3 1/2 lbs of potatoes (Yukon Gold)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- Peel and evenly chop potatoes, place in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to a boil over med-high heat, add the salt, and then lower to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain the potatoes, and return to the now empty saucepan to sit for 5 minutes, allowing them to dry more fully.
- Meanwhile, place garlic and cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside until needed. Just before use, pour the cream mixture through a sieve to strain out and discard the garlic.
- Once the potatoes have been boiled, drained, and rested, begin mashing them. Add some of the cream to make them easier to mash. Once mashed to your liking, add the remainder of the cream and mix well before adding the cheese and butter. Mix to combine.
- Let the mashed potatoes rest a few minutes on your stove top while the remaining cream and butter is fully absorbed. Mix well and serve.
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Alton likes to leave his garlic in the cream and mash it along with the potatoes. I prefer to strain it out prior to mashing. I feel that I can better control the level of garlic flavor in the final dish and, also, ensure that no one is served a chunk of garlic masquerading as a potato lump. Whether or not you strain the cream, remember that the longer you allow the garlic to steep, the more garlic flavor will be infused into the cream.
If you look at Alton’s recipe, you may notice that he doesn’t add any butter. No butter in mashed potatoes? Perish the thought! I’ve corrected his oversight in my version of the recipe.
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This will be my last post before the Holiday, so, I’d like to wish a happy Thanksgiving to you and all whom you hold dear. And for those not celebrating the Holiday, have a great day and an even better weekend.
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