05 June 2009

Spuds in an evening gown, Spuds in jeans

It's a tale of two potatoes. Both are mashed, but one is a little more elegant than the other. They both have their place on your table.

Each recipe will serve four to five people.


Want to dress up your mashed potatoes? Try this little trick.

1/2 of a medium white, red, or sweet Vidalia onion
6 medium to large white or Yukon Gold potatoes
Salt & Black pepper
4 oz soft goat cheese (1/3 to 1/2 cup, depending how much you like Chevre!)
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk or light cream (it's your heart, not mine!)

Preheat a thick frying pan that has been very generously oiled with canola or vegetable oil, over medium heat.

Take half of a sweet, white, or red onion. Slice very thin, so you have long thin pieces of onion. In this case, the thinner the onion the faster it will cook...and that's a good thing.

Put onions in frying pan. Lowering the heat down to just above low, allow to soften and wilt and slowly caramelize — about 25 to 30 minutes. Keep the heat low so the onions do not burn. Caramelization takes time to happen!

Meanwhile, wash, peel, and quarter about 6 medium sized potatoes. These can be Yukon Gold (everyone's favourite for mashing) or white or red potatoes. Just take the time to peel them -- though normally I love to leave the skins on my mashed potatoes, this isn't the dish for it.

Rinse the potatoes, put in a large sauce pan, and cover with cool water. Add a generous sprinkle of salt. Set on burner, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, allowing potatoes to cook for at least 20 minutes. You want them to be absolutely tender when you poke them with a fork.

Check the onions, and if they are nice and brown and bubbly, remove from heat. Once cooled, chop up finely. Set aside.

Remove potatoes from heat, and drain. Returning them to saucepan, add butter and milk, a pinch of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Toss in the chopped onions. Add the goat cheese.

With a hand mixer, whip your potatoes until they are silky smooth.

You can serve them as they are, giving everyone a generous dollop. For a new trick, flatten 4" rounds of potatoes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (and lightly oiled). Make the patties about 1/2 inch thick, and leave plenty of room between them. Bake for 15 minutes at 350°, until they puff up and the tops are golden brown. This makes a great platform for the rest of your meal to rest on.


These are a little more rustic, but with the tiny nip of horseradish, they're a popular surprise.

6 medium sized red or Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup milk or light cream
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp horseradish
Salt & black pepper
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Wash the potatoes, but do not peel. Cut up into large chunks, rinse, and put in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Add a bit of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Lower heat to medium-low, and allow potatoes to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes. They should be tender to your probing with a knife or fork, but not completely falling apart.

Drain the saucepan of water, then add the milk, butter and horseradish. Mash very well with a potato masher, or whip lightly with a hand mixer. If you like lumps, don't mix too well. Add salt & pepper to taste, as well as parsley if you're using it ... and serve.

A "too-tasty-to-be-homemade" tip that will work for either recipe? Boil your potatoes in chicken stock. You'll have the tastiest, richest potatoes ever, without adding too much more in terms of calories or fat.

Whatever your taste, either of these variations on the trusty mashed potato will satisfy!

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