Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Delicious, Creamy Mashed Potatoes

These are the mashed potatoes I love. These are the only ones that I serve at my Thanksgiving table, and they are the creamiest mashed potatoes I have ever had. All other mashed potatoes pale sadly in comparison. Why? Because they are smooth, unbelievably creamy and just salty enough to taste scrumptious. They are so good that I don't even bother with gravy. (My picky husband says that the gravy ruins them anyway, because they are perfect as is.) These truly are remarkable, but the taste and texture are not the only reasons why I have a love affair with these taters. It's also because they can be made ahead! I'm talking like days ahead. Do you know how valuable that is? To be able to make something when you have the time, and then serve it up when you don't? Well, I do, and it's my secret to getting everything done for any big holiday (especially Thanksgiving!).
   I saw The Pioneer Woman make this on the FoodNetwork a while back and I just had to try them. I have been making them ever since and wouldn't dream of doing anything different. I usually tweak recipes a bit, but this one was perfect as written, so I didn't change a thing. As a result, I just copy and pasted her recipe and instructions at the bottom of the post, so that nothing got lost in translation. :)
   Ok, enough chatting, let's get to the taters.

You'll need 5 pounds of taters. Yes, that seems like a lot, but if you have a mashed potato loving family like mine, or you are making these for a crowd, then it is the perfect amount. Yukon Gold potatoes will give you a more buttery texture and flavor, but Russet potatoes work well too.
Just wash, peel and dice them up. The smaller the dices, the faster they will cook so I usually dice them about 1 inch thick, but if you had the time you could just quarter the whole potato up. The main objective is to get all the potato pieces about the same size, so that they cook at the same time.

Put all the chopped potatoes into a large pot, and cover them with cold water.

They need to be completely submerged in the water.  Add some salt and crank up the heat.

While the potatoes are cooking, you will notice the starch rising to the top and looking kind of foamy. I grew up in a house where the foam was rarely scraped off, so you can leave it if you want. It won't hurt you, it's just not pretty.

If you do scrape it off, just use a large spoon and gently skim the top of the water to remove all the starchy bubbles.

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain off ALL the water and then return the potatoes to the hot pot. Turn the heat on low, and start mashing. You want to get as much water out of the potatoes as possible, while getting them nice and smooth.

When the potatoes are mostly smashed, turn the heat off.

Now comes the good stuff. Butter, and lots of it. If I have it, I like to use this Danish butter because it tastes extra creamy; but any salted butter you have is fine. (You could also use unsalted butter, but you will need to adjust your seasoning later on.) You need 1 1/2 sticks.

The cut butter and 1 block of softened cream cheese go into the potatoes. I know. Cream cheese is not the most conventional ingredient in mashed potatoes, but I really believe that this is the "secret ingredient" that makes these potatoes so good.

Mash in all the butter and cream cheese until it's melted.

Then comes the half and half. (I never said this was a low-fat recipe. This is the holidays after all.)

Seasoned salt gives these potatoes a special flavor that just plain salt can't replicate.

Just mash and stir everything together until they are smooth and combined well. See how dreamy they are? It's takes everything in me not to just grab a spoon and have at it right now. (Don't think that I let that potato masher go untouched, though. It gets licked so clean that you'd be hard pressed to realize I used it at all.)

Now, if you are making these for dinner right now, and you don't need to put them away for later, then by all means just serve them up. However, if you (like me) are making them in advance, then get out a casserole dish and generously butter that sucker. Don't be shy. We already loaded up the mashed potatoes, why skimp with buttering the baking/serving dish?

Scrape all the potatoes into the buttered dish, and even it out. (This spatula also becomes my personal mashed potato lollipop when I'm done using it to get the potatoes evenly into the dish.)

When the potatoes are sufficiently smoothed out, just dot the top with a little more butter (to keep the top moist and also because it tastes good!). At this point it can be wrapped up and refrigerated for a few days.

When I'm ready to heat them up, I take them out of the fridge at least an hour before (TPW recommends 2-3 hours ahead), so that they can get to room temperature. I leave them covered with foil and put them into a 350F oven. I bake them for about 10 minutes with the foil on, and then take the foil off for the next 20 minutes. (You could leave the foil on for the whole time, but then the top doesn't get any sort of crust.)

Heads up, if your casserole dish is as full as mine, you might want to put a cookie sheet underneath it while it bakes, to catch any butter that may dribble out of the dish.

When the potatoes are hot and butter is bubbling, it's time to serve! (If you are thinking about your Thanksgiving time table, I usually put the potatoes and my other casseroles in the oven while the turkey is out and resting. Depending on the size of your bird, you will want to rest it for at least 45 minutes - even up to 2 hours if you have a huge bird. That's plenty of time to heat up anything you have made ahead of time, so that all your food can be hot at the same time.) Happy Eating!!
Here's the recipe:
from The Pioneer Woman

Delicious, Creamy Mashed Potatoes

  •  5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 3/4 cups Butter
  • 1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.
Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.
Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.
Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.
Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

No comments:

Post a Comment