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BriarPatch Food Co-op: A mash made in Heaven

By Rebecca Torpie
BriarPatch Food Co-op
Mashed potatoes are a flexible recipe, just follow some rules of thumb and you’ll have a perfect (and easy!) side dish with endless possibilities.
Photo by Rebecca Torpie

Mashed potatoes are a flexible recipe, just follow some rules of thumb and you’ll have a perfect (and easy!) side dish with endless possibilities.

There are essentially three times in the life of a mashed potato recipe to inject flavor. Whatever you choose, they’ll almost always layer well and pair beautifully with the rest of your holiday feast. Use up spare ingredients from other dishes or clear out the fridge to make room for leftovers, or go a little bit blingier for the “wow!” factor.

Getting the smooth, creamy consistency of a good mash starts with the right potato. Starch potatoes, like Yukon Gold or Russet are the way to go. Avoid waxy potatoes.

Flavor Layer #1 – The Boiling Water. Use the opportunity to cook your potatoes to impart subtle hints of flavor directly into the potato, in addition to the shake of salt you might usually add, like several dried or fresh bay leaves, a few whole garlic cloves, or the aromatics from the turkey cavity post-roasting.

Tips for boiling your potatoes:

  • Chop in large pieces the same size so they don’t absorb too much water. (You can even do this the night before. Put them in the pot of water they’ll cook in and store in the fridge.)
  • Don’t drop your potato pieces in boiling water. Like any dense tuber, they cook best when they heat up along with the water.

Flavor Layer #2 – The Fats. After your potatoes are mashed, add in your butter and milks. This is also the crucial mixing step. Instead of milk, try Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Tips for blending fats into your potatoes:

  • After you drain your potatoes, put them back in the pot to briefly dry out on the stove. You do not want additional water in the mix.
  • Give the potatoes a gentle mash with a potato ricer or large fork. Do not overmix from this step forward or you’ll get grey, gummy potatoes!
  • Add your butter, blend gently, and then add in your milk fats, warmed up.
  • If you have a large quantity of potatoes, or like them particularly smooth, you can use a hand mixer, just be cautious, checking consistency as you go.
  • Keep tasting as you go, adding more dairy, butter, salt as needed.

Flavor Layer #3 – The Stir-ins or Toppings. Many of us think basic is best, but if you want to add a little extra sumthin sumthin at the end, go for the gold and add fresh chopped herbs, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, or parmesan or blue cheese. You could even divvy it up into a couple of dishes and make a couple of different flavors if you’re feeling fancy.

Mashed potatoes are at their peak when freshly made off the stove, though preparing them the day before and reheating in their serving dish covered in foil on a low oven once your guests arrive is a good time saver and no one will be the wiser.

Crème Fraîche Mashed Potatoes

8 servings

3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled/quartered

1 cup crème fraîche

8 Tbsp unsalted butter

Salt/pepper, to taste


Boil potatoes in 6 qt pot of salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, mash with masher or pass through a food mill or ricer into a big bowl.

Bring crème fraiche and butter to a simmer in 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour over potatoes, stir to combine. Add salt/pepper to taste.

Find more recipes for the Thanksgiving holiday at https://briarpatch.coop/holidays/


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