Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Cometh

There's less than a week to go before Thanksgiving.  Has everyone gotten their menu settled?
Photo via
I'd like to talk about what usually becomes a Thanksgiving afterthought:  the mashed potatoes.  On the Thanksgiving table, they're one of the least special items.  After all, we have them fairly often throughout the year, right?  So why are they supposed to be special on Thanksgiving?  Don't they almost have to be drowned out by the cranberry sauce and the stuffing?  No, I say!  They can hold their own!  By gosh, today they will be special!

Photo via About Food
But how?  What can make that starchy staple a standout?  Here are some tips:

  • Wash the potatoes first.  Well.  Use a brush.  Then slice them into thin (maybe 1/4" to 1/2") disks.  They'll cook faster.
  • Parsnips add complexity to the flavor of mashed potatoes.  Peel and slice them as thick as the potatoes, and boil then mash them together.
  • Use a food mill to mash them.  That makes the smoothest potatoes.  That's how restaurants get that incredible texture.  It also makes peeling the potatoes first unnecessary.
  • After you mash them, don't skimp on the salt and pepper.
  • Put a complimentary flavor in with the potatoes.  For example, take 1/4 cup of the turkey drippings and mix them in with the potatoes.  If your stuffing is heavy on thyme or sage, put a hint of it in the potatoes too.  Other flavors that might compliment might be some mashed roasted garlic or a bit of horseradish.
  • Fat makes mashed potatoes creamy.  Butter/margarine, sour cream, half and half, all are good options.  Of course, cheese is good (rumor has it that there is some amazing smoked cheddar at the store), or you could go all out.
Good luck with the potatoes!

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