Writer Nora Ephron wisely said, “People need more mashed potatoes in their lives.” She called the silky, smooth spuds, “God’s shaving cream.”
Mashed Potatoes: Then and Now
I fondly remember my mother’s mashed potatoes. 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 onto an electric hand mixer. The handy kitchen gadget whipped the potatoes so perfectly they took on the look of a spud smoothie. Today I use a ricer.
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 (or cream cheese) to my holiday potatoes. They’re superb! (Recipe here)
Favorite Comfort Food
The Winner is . . .
Some years ago on this blog, I asked for responses to the question: “What is your favorite comfort food?” Mashed potatoes was the hands down winner, garnering twice the number of votes as its nearest rivals.
In a virtual tie for second place was mac & cheese, tomato and potato soups, cornbread, roast beef, and grilled cheese. To my surprise pizza, meatloaf, beef stew, and fried chicken all hovered around third place.
Serve from a Bowl or from a Shell?
On many a Thanksgiving plate, you’ll find mashed potatoes nudged up against the turkey and dressing and all overlaid with a puddle of gravy.
But there are other ways to serve the ubiquitous spuds. When I mentioned my Thanksgiving side dish to Cyndy last year, she had a different take.
“I make them about the same way you do,” she said, “with Boursin cheese, butter, garlic and light cream. But then I put them back into the shell with a sprinkle of cheese and green onions before twice baking.”
Either way works for me.