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Roasted garlic mashed potatoes

November 18, 2009

One of my favorite full-tilt-guilt meals is an all-carb carbtastic carbopalooza carb-o-rama-tic feast: super-cheesy mac ‘n cheese, savory dressing (as in, stuffing, not, like “Ranch”) and mashed potatoes. All homemade, of course. With a big glass of wine. Or a frosty margarita.

The origins of my carb-fever are for another post (or, another blog altogether), but I’m here today to spread the news about mashed potatoes. I’ve made ’em every way you can make ’em. Smashed, whipped, blended, forked, twice-baked. With cheese. With onions, leeks, chives, scallions. Herbs. Spices. Sour cream. Cream cheese. Bacon. Chicken broth. Vegetable broth. Mushroom broth. And an unfortunate encounter with grated ginger. (But we won’t go there.)

No, my pretties, you don’t need any of that. In fact (now, lean in close so I can whisper this) you don’t even need the garlic. But SoupAddict loves da garlic, so, SoupAddict is going to include da garlic.

One of the finds of the year for me was buttermilk mashed potatoes. I use buttermilk in my bread recipes all the time, so the fact that I didn’t think about it for taters is maddening. “How much more obvious do these things have to get?” SoupAddict wails, while trying to kick herself in the butt with her heel.

Leave it to the pros to think of these things. Once I heard how Zuni prepares their mashed potatoes, I figured I was done experimenting. And I was. Perfect mashed potatoes, every time. And so simple. You take boiled potatoes (golden-fleshed, like Yukons, are delicious, as are plain ole russets. Me, I like to use a combo; I’m difficult like that), and a helping of roasted garlic. Mash. Add equal parts of buttermilk, cream and butter. Stir until creamy. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve. And feel the love.

Yummy, yummy, sweet roasted garlic. If you’re not a fan, just skip it. But how could you not be? SoupAddict can not comprehend. But then again, SoupAddict just planted 64 cloves of 4 varieties of garlic in her backyard. Maybe she loves garlic more than the average bear.
The garlic will roast happily unattended while you’re lavishing love on the potatoes, but, as an alternative, you could drop a handful of individual cloves into the water with the potatoes and let them boil. (Peel them first, please. No one wants garlic skin in their potatoes. Not even garlic-lovin’ SoupAddict.) And then mash and incorporate them into the potatoes.
These Danesco Skrub’a Vegetable Scrubbing Gloves were an impulse buy in-store at Williams-Sonoma. If I had any willpower at all, I could’ve saved $2 by waiting and ordering them from Amazon. (Willpower [snort]) They got the carrots for my California Medley Cheddar soup so squeaky clean, I wasn’t the least bit tempted to peel them. They did a bang up job on these potatoes, too. To clean the gloves, I just “wash my hands” with a teeny drop of dish detergent, rinse them well, and hang them to dry (the gloves, not the hands).
I left some of the skin on a few of the Idaho potatoes for boiling purposes. I could be totally imagining it, but I feel like the skin imparts a more earthy flavor. The ricer I have will remove the skins from the taters during mashing, so, no worries about lumps or strips of skin. Unless that’s your thing. In which case you can scrape the skins out of the ricer and add them to your potatoes.
This ricer was the real reason I stopped at Williams-Sonoma on my lunch hour, before I was lured by the sirens’ song of the potato scrubbing gloves. Nothing produces fluffy smoooooth taters like a ricer. Which, ironically, has nothing to do with rice. I suppose the resulting strands of potatoes resemble rice, but really, they look more like lice. Probably nobody would buy a potato licer, though.
Some reviewers of this ricer reported that it takes muscle to squeeze the livin’ bejezus out of the potatoes. Not so. Make sure your potatoes are fully cooked — whether you use a ricer or not — and fill the ricer basket at most three-quarters full.
Mashed taters with buttermilk incorporated. Buttermilk adds that special sumthin’-sumthin’ that regular dairy can’t quite match. If you’re squeamish about buttermilk, just don’t sniff the carton. Shake and pour. Trust SoupAddict on this one. You won’t be sorry.
Ahhhhh, the finished product. Creamy and buttery with specks of pepper. Just the way SoupAddict likes loves it.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2 heads garlic
    olive oil
    salt & pepper
2 lbs potatoes, peeled (or not, whatevs), quartered or eighthed (cookin’ potatoes, makin’ up words)
1/4 cup buttermilk (full fat, baby – these are celebration potatoes), room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half, warmed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if roasting the garlic; otherwise, skip this step and the next two).

2. Roasting the garlic: cut the top portion off of each head (leave skin intact) – the tops of the cloves should be exposed. Place each clove on a square of foil. Drizzle olive oil over each head. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

3.Close the foil up over each head, like a Hershey’s Kiss. Place the foil packets in the oven for 35-40 minutes. If your house smells positively yummy, you’re doin’ it right. Remove packets from oven and allow to cool before unwrapping. While the garlic’s cookin’, move on to the potatoes.

4. Potatoes: Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Salt liberally and stir. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until a fork or knife easily pierces one of the chunks.

5. Mash the potatoes in a clean pot or bowl, using a masher or a ricer. Unwrap the garlic heads. Squeeze the head of roasted goodness into the mashed potatoes (or send them through the ricer). Don’t worry, the cloves will slip right out of their skins. [Plop!]

6. Stir in the buttermilk and mix well. Repeat with cream and then the butter. Add salt and stir. Taste. If you can’t tell there’s salt, add more. Then do the same with the pepper.

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