It’s about time we stop pretending like turkey is the main event of a Thanksgiving dinner. It is delicious, it looks nice, and a good turkey is undoubtedly an impressive culinary feat – but there’s another star of the show that needs to stop hiding in the turkey’s shadow: mashed potatoes.
It’s the dish that gets the most collective ‘mmm’s around the table. The dish that makes everyone’s eyes close as they engulf their palate in the first bite. It’s definitely the first tray to be emptied at the dinner table. With a taste that gives the same sensation as a warm blanket in wintertime, everyone starts drooling when that bowl of mashed potatoes gets passed around.
And yet every Thanksgiving, someone on the dinner list is casually tasked with making them, as though it’s just a side dish and they drew the lucky stick. But making mashed potatoes is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. So with some help from Food Network chef Tyler Florence, we’re here to help you avoid the ultimate tragedy that so many neglected mashed potatoes face: sticky, gooey doom.
Start by knowing what kind of potato you’re using: thick-skinned russets are higher in starch than thin-skinned yellow potatoes, which should indicate how much moisture they’ll need to come out perfect. Many cooks prefer Yukon golds, which already have a buttery, creamy consistency. Once you’ve bought the goods, make sure you boil them until they’re soft, but not yet falling apart.
Now, Tyler has some advice we’d never thought of ourselves. But now that we’ve tried it, there might be no going back: instead of mixing in the butter and dairy of choice after boiling the potatoes in water, he boils his straight in the source. And that’s not all: he adds in some of the best seasonings to the boiling pot as well. He swears by garlic, sage, rosemary, a little bit of time, of course some salt, and a dash of olive oil to help soften everything.
It may sound crazy, but it tastes crazy good. Once everything’s boiled, he takes the epic step that will turn your mashed potatoes from delicious to divine:
“When the potatoes are tender, I…pour the potatoes through a colander, and the cream will collect on the bottom. Then I’ll put the potatoes back into the pot and take the potato-infused garlic cream and fold that back into the potatoes…” Then he mashes it all up with salted butter and olive oil to smooth out the texture.
Are you drooling yet? Because this gets even better.
Anyone with a kitchen knows that preparing a dish for a canonical menu like Thanksgiving can come with its fair share of stress; the bowl you need is dirty, the peeler breaks, your dog starts eating the peels, you spill the boiling water, and there just aren’t enough minutes in a day to deal with even the slightest obstacle. And the kitchen anxiety can really throw off your cuisine groove. So here’s something to keep in your back pocket that will ease up a lot of the stress:
The mashed potato mess trick.
If the unthinkable has already happened and there’s no way to go back and unglue the mashed potato – make it into gratin! You can do this by spreading a thick layer on the bottom of a baking dish, and topping it with butter, cheese, and breadcrumbs that will transform it into a brand new but extra delicious treat, and give everyone at the table a tasty surprise.