Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Herbed Mashed Potatoes

A and I agreed, theme or no theme, it’s just not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. I could have made the Perfect Mashed Potatoes that I made for our last Thanksgiving but there’s no fun in that. Trying new recipes is what our holiday meals and this blog is all about.

I began a hunt for a recipe for herbed mashed potatoes. There are quite a few of them. Using quite a selection of herbs. My objection to almost all of them is that the herbs are mixed into the potatoes. I didn’t want mashed potatoes with little green bits in them any more than I wanted mashed potatoes with nuts in them. Martha came to my rescue. She offers a recipe where the herbs are infused into the cream (or milk).

There were only two of us dining so I bought 5 medium potatoes rather than the 6 large ones called for. I could always cut down slightly on the butter and cream. Yes, I use cream. It’s Thanksgiving. It only happens once a year. A little cream is not going to kill us. Once I had the potatoes peeled, chunked and merrily boiling away, I chopped the sage, rosemary and thyme and added them to the cream to quietly meld their flavors on a back burner while the more demanding recipes occupied my attention on the front burners.

The next step, of course, is to drain and mash the potatoes with the butter and cream. That meant that I was going to have the dreaded green bits in my potatoes. The solution was simply to strain out the herbs and just add the cream infusion to the potatoes so that you have the flavor without the greenery. A word to the wise: if you lack a strainer as I do, a flour sifter comes in handy.

At this point, with the soup refusing to thicken and the turkey “resting” and taking up valuable counter space, I decided to attempt gravy for the first time in my life under the tutelage of A who made a wonderful gravy at our last Thanksgiving dinner and made it look so easy. Fat was skimmed, pans were re-arranged on the stove, flour was whisked and I completely forgot to add salt, pepper and parsley to the mashed potatoes.

So they were a little bland. But I still found myself humming my way to Scarborough Fair with “…parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…”.

Verdict: Yum!! This one’s a keeper!!

Herbed Mashed Potatoes
(source: Marth Stewart Living, September/October 1991)

6 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tablespoon each of chopped fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme
4 tablespoon (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Put potato chunks in a large saucepan over high heat and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and all the herbs except parsley and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and cover, allowing herbs to infuse for 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes well and pass through a food mill (or use a masher). Add butter and gradually stir in cream until potatoes have the desired consistency (you may not use all the cream).

Stir in parsley, season with additional salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Compost: Potato skins, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme stems

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