Mashed potatoes are a really easy side dish that always please a crowd and hit the spot with so many dishes. Everybody brings certain expectations to the table, and this is an easy way to finish a meal strong.
This recipe is really rich as I like to work a lot of dairy ingredients into the mash. I also like to add a small amount of goat cheese to give a very subtle tang to the potatoes that you can’t quite put your finger on, but it just adds that little something extra. That and I am also a sucker for goat cheese. Richness aside, the potatoes also have that distinct roasted garlic taste which is sweet, garlicky (shocker!), and kind of nutty and is complemented by the parmesan and the notes of chives that pair so wonderfully with potatoes (my reason for entering Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Briciole). I also mash the potatoes somewhat coarsely with the skin on so that its slightly chunky and just more interesting texture and appearance-wise. And if somehow this isn’t rich enough for you, there’s plenty of ways you can take these a step further–use duck fat in place of some of the butter, chunks of pancetta or smoked bacon, caramelized shallots–now that I write about it, I’m starting to wish I’d actually done some of those things. Maybe next time…
- 2.5 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (I think these are the best kind for mashed potatoes)
- 1 garlic head
- olive oil
- 1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4-1/2 cup (1/2-1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp fresh chives (or scallions)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- ground black pepper
- ground white pepper
- Optional: a few small goat cheese crumbles, like 1-2 oz
Ideally, you’re already using your oven for something else seeing how this is a side dish and all. I say that because it would seem wasteful to get your oven going just to roast a head of garlic, which is the first step. Doing this is simple: preheat the oven to 400?F and lop off the top of the head of garlic so as to expose a little bit of all of the cloves. Then, wrap the garlic in tin foil (with the opening on top) and drizzle in some olive oil, doing your best to coat all of the cloves. Then tightly, wrap your tin foil shut and put this in the oven. You might consider putting a pan underneath the garlic in case your tin foil efforts aren’t perfect (hey, it happens). Roasting the garlic takes about 45 minutes, so leave that going.
While that’s taking place, get a big pot of water boiling. Once boiling, place your potatoes in the water (don’t bother peeling them!), doing your best to ensure that they are all submerged in the water. Depending on how crowded your pot is, boiling these guys will cost you somewhere upwards of 20 minutes–just move them around periodically (so they all cook evenly) and give a poke now and then to see when they’re tender. When you think you’re done, be sure you check that all of your potatoes are tender–they come in different shapes and sizes so they will cook differently and one undercooked potato will throw things off.
While you wait for the potatoes to tender up, get all of your other ingredients ready. In a small bowl, mix all but the chives and heat briefly in the microwave to get the butter softened and the buttermilk down to something warmer than room temperature. Dice up the chives (or scallions–whatever you have handy) and toss these in the bowl as well.
Once finally sufficiently fork tender, pour out the water. Some like to reserve some of the water to mash into the potatoes to keep things moist. I prefer to instead achieve moisture through buttermilk as you get added richness, but if you’re counting calories, water might be more diet friendly. While the potatoes are still warm, you want to take this time to beat them down. I have a potato masher and like to have somewhat rustic-styled, coarsely mashed potatoes where there’s still some small chunks and strips of skin in there. If you’re more in the pureed baby-food crowd (I kid I kid!), feel free to use a ricer instead. Whatever you do, just don’t overdo it–overworking the potatoes (e.g. in a food processor) will make them gluey.
As you mash the potatoes up, pour in the bowl of wet ingredients and incorporate this into the potatoes. Ideally, your roasted garlic should be done about now, so once cool enough to handle, open the tin foil, squeeze the base of the garlic to pop all of the cloves out of the garlic paper and into your potatoes they go. Mash everything together until well mixed. If the potatoes don’t quite seem moist/rich enough for your tastes, add a dab more buttermilk and/or butter, mashing, retasting, and adding more as necessary. Feel free to season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.