Mashed potatoes highlight nearly every Thanksgiving meal. You need something to cradle the gravy and what’s better than a mound of fluffy, buttery carbs.
I fondly remember my mother’s mashed potatoes, though they were enhanced by nothing more than butter, milk, salt and pepper. That’s exactly how I made mine for many years, preparing them, as she did, with a wooden-handled potato masher. Some lumps remained, but those just added texture. Then I moved on to an electric hand mixer, that whipped the potatoes so perfectly they took on the look of a spud smoothie.
Getting the Mashed Potatoes of Yesteryears. . . or Even Better!
I now mash with a potato ricer. It’s not a user friendly device, but it does the job well. If you’re making a large Thanksgiving-size batch of potatoes, it’s best operated by a couple of people: one feeding the apparatus and the other—the stronger of the two—squeezing the handle to force the hot potatoes through the tiny holes in the sieve. For your effort, you’ll be rewarded with fluffy potatoes.
I’ve made other changes to my mother’s recipe. It’s now acceptable to load up the bland root vegetable with decadent extras, at least, at Thanksgiving. In addition to the butter, I add roasted garlic, half and half cream, and Boursin cheese to my holiday potatoes. They’re superb! (Recipe here)
I keep them warm in the Crockpot on the lowest temperature after first putting a thin covering of milk on the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching.
The Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes
As to the Thanksgiving sweet potatoes, the options are many. I have some homegrown ones given to me by my friend Beth Pike, whose husband, Frank, grew them in the backyard. Hmm. . .but how should I cook them? So many possibilities.
I’m looking at New York Times writer Melissa Clark’s recipe. She got my attention, when she mentioned the mixture was doused with bourbon. The recipe is among her favorite Thanksgiving dishes and she has a cute video clip, showing how simple it is to make.
The Case of the Missing Marshmallows
Melissa recounts the family dilemma when her daughter comes home from school, saying, “My friends have tiny marshmallows on their Thanksgiving sweet potatoes, why don’t we?”
Well, no one’s ever asked me that question, but I’ve noticed fewer sweet potato takers among family and friends since I abandoned the marshmallow treatment. Could it be they’re missing the little, gooey puffs and fear telling me so?
To solve the family’s problem, Melissa now puts a few tiny marshmallows atop her daughter’s serving and leaves the rest untopped—except for pecans. I’m thinking it would be fun this year to make the sweet potato casserole with half marshmallows (for those of that persuasion) and leave the other side nutty. Then I could tell which is preferred. I might even write a post about my discovery. 🙂