Let’s talk about mashed potatoes…

Everyone has their own distinct way of making mashed potatoes whether it is simply adding milk, butter, and salt (which is always good) or adding a variety of different dairy and fat. When I make mashed potatoes for a potluck or dinner party and I’m not trying to be health conscious, I like to add a variety of things. First, I make toasted garlic and strain out the garlic pieces which can be used on or in something else or as a garnish unless I know I’m making the potatoes for a bunch of garlic lovers. I like to add the garlic butter, cream cheese, sour cream, half and half, and salt to taste. It is important of course to be somewhat conservative in the total amount of these ingredients you add so that your potatoes do not end up too runny. You can always add more of whichever ingredient you like. Lastly, my hands down favorite way to “mash” the potatoes (Russetts in particular) is to put them through a ricer. Ricers are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of forms. Essentially, they push whatever you are working with through small holes to create rice-like pieces. Once you have put your boiled potatoes through a ricer, it is just a matter of stirring the potatoes with the rest of the ingredients. At times, when I am working with a red or gold potato and I want skin and/or chunks in the end product, I will just bust out a good old-fashioned masher. The only thing I am not super fond of is using a automated blender or mixer to make “mashed” potatoes. I feel like they end up gummy. Let me know your favorite way to make mashed potatoes, I’d love to hear about it.

Toasted Garlic

I’ve toasted so much garlic, usually in butter for my mashed potatoes, that I am well aware of the dangers of burning it. Here’s my number one tip: don’t walk away from the garlic as it cooks, and stir it almost constantly. To get started for a Marinara sauce, put about 3 healthy tablespoons of a good extra virgin olive oil into a skillet on medium to medium-low heat, depending on the stove. Next, add enough finely chopped garlic to mostly cover the bottom of the skillet. I used about 8 or 9 cloves of garlic, which is good for a large pot of pasta sauce or a family-sized serving of mashed potatoes. I was using kind of a large skillet in this picture, so my garlic didn’t completely cover the bottom. Just be sure to spread your garlic out on the bottom of the skillet, so that it all cooks evenly. The garlic needs to be toasted until it is a light golden brown, as shown in this picture. It’s very easy to burn your garlic, and once it turns a medium to dark brown it becomes bitter and will ruin your meal.

Check back tomorrow for a simple pasta sauce recipe using toasted garlic, it’s one of my favorites!