Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mashed potatoes

In our household, we love potatoes and have them as a side dish at least a couple times a week. Last week, I actually used a recipe for mashed potatoes -- I know, it seems kind of silly, but I thought I would give it a try because there were enough differences from how I normally make them. Usually, I just boil the potatoes, add a ton of butter and creamer, and call it a dish. The specific recipe I tried was published in Cook's Country magazine*, February/March 2009 issue under the name "Sour Cream and Onion Smashed Potatoes." I just can never seem to follow a recipe exactly as its written especially when it's for something so simple. And oftentimes, I don't have exactly the right ingredients. Here's how I modified the recipe:

Boil six medium to large redskin potatoes (I cut these to six pieces and leave the skins on) until cooked through. Drain. In the meantime, saute 1 small onion in 4 TBSP butter until the onions become translucent. To this add 1 cup sour cream, and 1/2 cup half-and-half. Add the potatoes and mash. Salt and pepper to taste. It was suprising what a different taste the sauteed onions added to the mix.

Tonight, I made a variation on the theme, but didn't have sour cream, was running low on half-and-half and wanted to use up some fresh basil. The modification turned out pretty well, but it would have been much better with the sour cream. I sauteed the onions, added five large leaves of basil cut into pieces with herb snips, then added about a quarter cup of half-and-half and some cream cheese. This would be delicious if it had been made with the sour cream. I also like the idea of using dill in the recipe.

Other ways we like potatoes are as garlic potatoes made on the grill or in the oven. They are incredibly easy. Cut up potatoes and place in an oven safe dish or if cooking on the grill, in a double layer of tin foil. Cut several dabs of butter and add to the potatoes. Squeeze a clove or two of garlic through a garlic press and add to the potatoes. You can also add cut up onions or herbs to this concoction. If cooking in the oven, cover with tinfoil (or a lid if you've got an oven safe one) and cook at about 350 for 15 or so minutes. If on the grill, make sure any seams are placed up rather than down - otherwise all of the butter will run out, and your potatoes will be really dry and will burn onto the foil. Check occasionally until the potatoes soften.

Some day, I will be making potato pasta (gnocchi) and potato pancakes. I will post the results then.

*Cooks Country is a publication of America's Test Kitchen. As you may know, America's Test Kitchen is often shown on public television. The show, the website, and the publication are wonderfully informative; although not as much as a celebrity machine as the Food Channel shows, the recipes are tested with many variations until the panel is satisfied for taste and texture. They will often provide variations. If you have the extra funds, I'd suggest purchasing a subscription (the magazine can be bought off the rack as well). The website provides a free recipe on the opening page. On the date of this post the free recipe is for Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili.

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