Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.
The three pillars of the Thanksgiving meal. But too often potatoes are nothing more than a medium for gravy. Which is too bad because the potato is such a wonderful food. But it isn’t tough to elevate it to something more.
I switch between mashing and whipping potatoes depending on my mood. When my kids were smaller I would let them use a potato masher, it really wasn’t my preferred method but it gave the kids something to do and they felt as if they were a part of the meal. Mashing them with a masher tends to break down the starch cells and makes it gummy, grainy and not particularly appetizing and in serious need of gravy. To save it I add some extra ingredients and I bake them. With the addition of cream cheese, sour cream and butter, the texture changes to something more palatable and the taste of the potatoes really comes through.
Whipping the potatoes is another option. But to do it in the quantity needed for a Thanksgiving meal, a stand up mixer is required. I host anywhere between 10 -17 people every Thanksgiving so I would never attempt it without my mixer. I like the lighter texture from whipping but it’s probably not a big enough difference for most people.
Mashed or Whipped Potatoes
These proportions will serve around 15 with plenty of leftovers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
5 lbs. of russet potatoes (simple because 5 lb. bags are cheap this time of year)
8 oz. stick of cream cheese
8 oz. of sour cream
1 stick of softened butter
salt and pepper
Peel, cut and rinse the potatoes. Place in a pot of boiling water. Cook until fork tender. Rinse the potatoes and dry them a little. This gets rid of some of the starch residue. Mash or whip them until they are broken up but still rough. Add the cream cheese and mash or whip until it’s incorporated. Add the sour cream and do the same. Last, add the stick of butter. Don’t worry if the butter doesn’t completely mix in, it will melt in the oven. I usually split this between two 9×13 dishes. It’s easier to handle and they cook better and quicker. Put them in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until some of the peaks are turning a little brown. When it comes out I will often put a couple of pieces of butter on top to melt and pool only because it looks sinful.
The nice thing with doing the potatoes this way is that they can be done earlier in the day or the day before and just cooked in the oven before dinner. If that’s the case, cook the potatoes longer and tent with foil if the top is getting done to soon.