My hot take? Mashed potatoes are the most important thing on the Thanksgiving plate…
If you’re waiting for me to make a culinary case, I don’t have one. I have only my undying gratitude for the creamy, fluffy side dish that casts a glow of comfort over the entire dinner plate, whether it happens to be a holiday or just a regular old Thursday night.
But, of course, Thanksgiving is not just a regular old Thursday night, and if you’re like me, you might feel inspired to upgrade your potatoes even further for the big day. So, here are a few mix-in options for you, with amounts that correspond to my classic mashed potato recipe, below. (I almost always mix in horseradish — and often pile in grated Parmesan, as well.)
* 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
* 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
* 1 caramelized onion (1 large sliced onion cooked slowly in olive oil over low heat for 30 minutes until the onions get sweet and golden)
* 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/3 cup snipped chives
* 4 to 5 ounces cream cheese
* Roasted garlic
* Butter or cream — similar to scrambled eggs, the more fat you add, the more luscious they will taste
Classic Creamy Mashed Potatoes
When I’m making mashed potatoes for a small crew, I favor using a ricer, which results in the smoothest texture. But when I’m dealing with large amounts, like on Thanksgiving, I use either an electric mixer or a potato masher for ease. This recipe serves 8-10.
4 pounds potatoes (baking/Russet or Yukon Gold), peeled and sliced in thirds if Russet, and in halves if Yukon Golds
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half-and-half, warmed in a saucepan or a microwave
your mix-in of choice (see options above photo)
In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until a knife can slip through the biggest chunk of potato with zero resistance. It usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes, but you can err on the side of over-doing it because they’ll only get softer and more mash-able. Drain in a colander, and return the empty pot to the stove.
Add the potatoes, more salt to taste, butter, and about half of the milk to the pot and, using a potato masher (or an electric hand mixer), start whipping the potatoes until smooth, slowly adding the rest of the warm milk until you reach desired (creamy, smooth) consistency.
Stir in desired mix-ins and serve warm.
P.S. French mashed potatoes and turkey pot pie for a small-scale Thanksgiving.
(Top photo by Jenny Rosenstrach. Second photo by CWP, LLC/Stocksy.)