Saturday, November 13, 2010

Potato, Po-Tot-o... Let's NOT call the whole Thanksgiving thing off

If you ask person responsible for household cleanliness, man or woman alike if there is a specific job they would rather be beat than do-- I assure you there would be a fast answer. That sentiment is mine in regards to Potato-Po-Tot-O...Let's not call the whole Thanksgiving thing off.... but always I would have taken any volunteer raising their hand to avoid having to do this task myself. I really enjoy mashed potatoes. I don't mind peeling the potato or cutting them or boiling their little pieces to perfection. So, you ask, what's my problem with the deal?
Frankly it was the time in which I was trying to get this accomplished. Before my Mom gave me the glorious tip I am going to share with you this day, I felt very rushed & pressured by the potato prep.
In the cooking of Thanksgiving, there are a lot of elements that can effectively be done ahead of time minimizing the complete frenzy at the end. There are also things that really cannot be done ahead. Gravy is one of those items if you use the turkey drippings from the bird. Some families pre-cook the turkey and serve cold but we never did that. So, while concurrently trying to make heavenly gravy, get the veggies and bread finished off, tend to the last minute table tweaks making it lovely, etc. it always made me feel pressured to have to be also trying to muck about in pursuit of the perfectly fluffy potato.

So now I am going to not only provide a wonderful potato prep but also give you my Mom's tip for being able to get this done up to an hour or a bit more before the appointed dinner hour while still being able to provide results tasting like you just finished the task.

At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Perfect Mashed Potato

4 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled (I don't always do this and sometimes make unpeeled-dirty potatoes- but for Thanksgiving, I peel them.) Cut them up into similar sized pieces otherwise the cooking is uneven. 2-3" pieces are good.

2 garlic cloves peeled & minced. This amount of garlic will only provide excellent flavor and likely your guests will not even know there is garlic in the recipe

1 1/3 cups of milk (warm this but do not allow to boil) As consistency of potato is an individual preference and would also be altered if you used say, Idaho potato rather than Yukon Gold, add milk a little at a time. You can add more, you can't take it out once poured in.

6T of unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Use a pot large enough for the potatoes or use two pots. Don't overcrowd. Put minced garlic into water and then potatoes. Boil for about 20 minutes or till fork tender. Drain the water and return to pot. The heat of the hot pot should remove any water left on potatoes. Move the potatoes around a bit in the pot to encourage this. Heat both the milk and the butter. When butter is melted in milk, set aside.
Find a heat resistant bowl that will allow for adequate mixing space. Pour potatoes in bowel and using your mixer beat the potatoes just a bit. As they begin to break down add your milk/butter mix and whip.
Whip until potatoes look just like you want. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mom's tip:
Find a pot in your kitchen that will work with the bowl you have chosen as a double boiler. In other words it can be set on top of the pot(as though it is the second pot of the double boiler) but is large enough not to fall into the pot. Do this before you boil the water or all you will steam is your hands while trying to fit the bowl over the pot. You only need enough temperature under the pot to create steam; not a rapid boil. You will fill the pot with water sufficient to be able to provide you all the time you need, fit your bowl snugly at the top of this pan and cover the top of the potato bowl with tin foil. Your potatoes will be perfect an hour or even 1 1/2 hours later leaving you free to finish up the other really last minute tasks of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Turn off the stove a bit before you actually try and take the bowl from the top of the pot so you don't burn your hands on the steam. Use potholders as this bowl is hot. All you have to do now is spoon your perfect mashed potatoes in the serving bowl of your choice.

Now, some folks will tell you that you can accomplish the same thing by doing the potatoes ahead of time and using the microwave. I totally can tell a microwaved mashed potato and think it entirely changes the texture of what would otherwise be Perfect Mashed Potatoes. You try it and let me know what you think.

Happy Thanksgiving tips from your Asheville Bed and Breakfast and Bon Appetit!

Patti and Gary Wiles Innkeepers At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn Your Asheville Bed and Breakfast

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