Thanksgiving Side Dish #1

If you’re anything like me, your mind is already (and probably has been) on your turkey day menu.

Turkey might be the dinner’s headliner, but we all know everyone secretly loves the mashed potatoes and gravy the best.  I think a lot of people, for some odd reason, are intimidated at the thought of homemade mash and gravy; but they’re both SUPER easy! And, you can play around with so many flavors, they never get boring.

Here’s my classic take on buttery, creamy, potatoes.  I’ll throw in some fun variations in the end!

What You Need:

  1. Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces (the amount you use depends on how many are eating. Yukon Golds run small, so figure a potato and a half per person. With Russets, you can figure two people per potato. Or, you can just do what I do and make a huge 5 lb. bag worth and enjoy the left overs!)
  2. Whipping Cream, warm (again, adjust to how much you make. Start with 1/3 cup warmed cream and go from there. Remember, you can always add, and never take away.)
  3. 1/4-1/2 cup butter, room temp
  4. Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

How It’s Done:

  • Put the cubed potatoes into a pot and cover completely with water. Salt liberally.
  • Bring water to a boil and continue to boil until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Once potatoes are done (when you pierce them with the fork they just about fall apart) drain thoroughly. Place them back into the pan and put the heat on LOW. Keep on low for about a minute to really get all of the moisture out of the potatoes.  This is an important step!!
  • Add the butter and salt and pepper (be liberal with those seasonings!  Potatoes can handle a LOT of salt without being oversalted) and mash with masher.  *Note: if you’re using a stand mixer, which I highly recommend, after you’ve heated the potatoes on low to remove moisture, transfer to your mixing bowl and add butter and seasonings. With the paddle attachment on, turn speed to low and mix til well combined.
  • Add cream and mash slightly, then stir the rest. Too dry? Add more cream until the consistency is to your liking. BE CAREFUL, if you add too much cream and they become watery, there’s not much you can do to save them 😦    *Note: In your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment and low speed still on, drizzle in the cream
  • Taste them for more salt or pepper.

 

Variations:

Heat your whipping cream up in a pyrex with a couple cloves of peeled garlic. Strain and use the garlic-infused cream for a subtle garlic taste without the garlic-chunks!

Mix in room-temp blue or gorgonzola cheese for a richer, tart potato.

Swirl in prepared horseradish for potatoes with a bite! I have some horseradish cheese spread that works GREAT. It makes my potatoes creamy (because of the cheese) with a spicy horseradish flavor.

Cut in fresh chives or garlic chives for a flavor boost      Bonus: it is aesthetically pleasing!

 

Things to Remember with Potatoes:

Dry out those potatoes after you drain them!

Try to keep them as hot as possible when mashing away–colder potatoes when mashing makes them gluey.

Salt, salt, and more salt. If you think you put too much salt in—-throw in a dash more!

 

 

 

Homemade Gravy

What you Need:

  1. 2 Tbsp. butter
  2. 2 Tbsp. flour
  3. 2 cups turkey pan drippings, turkey or chicken stock, or combination of

 

How it’s Done:

  • Separate any fat from the pan drippings (I recommend getting a fat separator.  Those things are awesome)  If you don’t quite have 2 cups worth of pan drippings, just add in some chicken stock until you’ve got 2 cups.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat
  • Slowly add in the flour, whisking constantly.
  • This will create a roux.  It should look thick and goopy.  Sometimes my roux balls up (that’s ok, too!) Whisk it around over low heat for about a minute to “cook out” the flour taste.  If you like your gravy dark, cook the roux until it turns dark brown.
  • Add the pan drippings/stock to the roux, whisking constantly to spread the roux throughout the liquid.
  • Switch heat to medium high to bring mixture to a boil, then turn down to low to simmer
  • Simmer for about 20-30 minutes.  This will “reduce” the liquid, making a more concentrated product. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get it nice and thick, about 45 minutes!      *To test: dip a spoon into the gravy. Turn the spoon over (so that it’s convex side is up) and run a finger down the middle of it.  If the liquid runs back together, it’s too thin.  If you can clearly see the line your finger it’s thick enough!
  • THAT’S IT!!!!

 

Variations

After you add the liquid to the roux, add in a teaspoon of both grainy mustard and prepared horseradish!

Add a touch of cream at the very end, and off the heat, for a richer broth.

I know that some people use cornstarch and water for a healthier solution to thickening up the gravy. I’ve never done it this way (because of my love affair with butter), but it is common.  Last year, something went awry with the cornstarch and it clumped up horribly, clearly never thickening the gravy.  If this happens, you can ALWAYS add more roux! In a separate pan, make a roux and simply add it to the liquid.  Whisk around and let simmer to thicken. Easy!

 

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