October 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast Part 1.2 - Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Sorry to disappoint my loyal Wino's, but my regular Homemade Wine post has been preempted this week in lieu of food.  Next Monday we'll be back to our normally scheduled program, and trust me, you're not going to want to miss it.

Jan over at Jan's Sushi Bar went hog-wild last week spinning up a storm and posting recipe after delicious recipe.  She really should write a cookbook.  She's that good.  Or her recipes are, whatev.  She encouraged me to post my Thanksgiving Feast recipes, since I sorta bragged mentioned in passing about how yummy everything is.

I thought about combining them all into one post, but that would make it way too long (I know, you're thinking "so why change now?") but I decided I'll split them up into separate posts and post one each day this week - that way, the ones you really think you'd like to try, you can bookmark just that post, and you won't have to scroll through the entire post just to find the one recipe you really want to try.

I'll also come back near Thanksgiving time and update them with 'real life' pictures to add a step-by-step pictorial mode. 

To get started, here's the list of things I make on/for Thanksgiving:

Champagne Turkey
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Slow Cooker Stuffing/Dressing
Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce with Port and Cinnamon
Pumpkin Cognac Crème Brûlée
Apple Cranberry Pie

Since I already posted the Champagne Turkey, today we'll move on to the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes.  That's why I called this post Part 1.2 - since I hadn't planned on doing a series, but Jan was persuasive.  Even though she probably doesn't know it.

I started making these a few years ago because I found that the hecticness of trying to get mashed potatoes done while the turkey is resting and dancing around too many people that have invaded the kitchen, this removed all stress.  And ensured the mashed potatoes wouldn't be lumpy.  Everyone loves this - it's one of the dishes that gets completely cleaned out by the end of the meal with no leftovers in sight.


Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This recipe serves 8 - I double it if we have 15 for dinner.

Ingredients:
~ 9  
 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 package
 cream cheese (bring to room temperature)
1 cup
 sour cream
2 teaspoons
 onion powder
1 teaspoon
 salt
1/4 teaspoon
 ground black pepper
2 tablespoons
 butter

Directions:

Peel the potatoes and cut them into uniform chunks.  Yukon Gold are my potato of choice because they have a natural buttery flavor.  If you want to release some of the starch, soak your cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water for an hour or two - but that's not a necessity and I usually don't.
 
Place the potatoes in a large pot, add cold water until they're covered about an inch over.  Bring to a boil, and once it's boiling add salt to the water (you can choose not to add salt to the water, but apparently doing so increases the chance of better mashability and fluffy goodness).

I also usually add a glug or two of chicken broth, and a few whole fresh garlic cloves while the potatoes boil to enhance the flavor.  You can remove the garlic cloves when you drain the potatoes, or be daring and mash them right along with the potatoes. 

Turn the burner down to a simmer, and let simmer for 10-20 minutes - keep checking and remove from heat as soon as they're fork-tender.  If you undercook them, you'll end up with lumps, if you overcook them, you'll end up with watery/mushy mashed potatoes.

Drain into a colander, then dump them back into the hot pot.  Let sit for about 5-10 minutes to 'dry out' a little more (Tip: For fluffier potatoes, cover the pot with a double thickness of paper towels, then cover with the lid. In ten minutes, steam will be absorbed by the towels and your potatoes will be dry and fluffy.)

Now it's time to start mashing.  You can use a ricer, or a food mill, or do it the old-fashioned way with a potato masher.

Mix in the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, salt, pepper, and butter.  (Note: The measurements for the salt, pepper, onion powder and butter is just a baseline - I usually add to taste rather than measure.)  Sometimes I'll use my hand mixer at this point to make sure they're ultra smooth, especially if I've used a potato masher and my arm is tired.  But be careful, over mixing them will make them gummy.

Transfer to a large bowl and cover.  Refrigerate overnight.

If you want to heat them up in your oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Lightly grease a medium baking dish and spread the potato mixture into the dish.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

Or, do what I do - since the turkey is taking up all the oven space and some of the other side dishes others bring as their contribution need some time in the oven while the turkey is resting, use a slow cooker or crock pot.  I spray the inside of my slow cooker with cooking spray (virgin olive oil, to be exact), and transfer the potatoes into it.  Cook on warm or low for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.

To make them a little more 'healthy', I use light cream cheese (the fat free just doesn't seem to have the right consistency, so I use the 1/3 less fat), fat-free sour cream, lemon pepper instead of the salt and pepper, and Blue Bonnet Light margarine instead of butter.  When I place the potatoes in the crock pot, I add a few more pats of margarine and a splash of fat free half-n-half (but not too much - the moisture from the crock pot will make them a tad bit runny if you're not careful!)

Everyone raves about these mashed potatoes, and I have to make it every year or I'd have some very disappointed dinner guests.

There's always the question of boiling potatoes - to start the water boiling first or not.  Not is the best way - if you start the water boiling first, the potatoes tend to cook too fast on the outside and the inside has to catch up, which makes for either lumpy or mushy mashed potatoes.  Oh, and the reason I add salt to the water after the water is boiling is because salt increases the boiling level of the water, and believe it or not, if you salt the water first, it takes longer for it to finally come to a boil.

These can be made up to 2 days ahead.  I usually slate the day before Thanksgiving as my day to do the 'ahead' stuff - that way on Thanksgiving while the turkey is cooking I can focus on any last minute things and set the table.  That, and as the dinner guests start arriving, I can be socializing and drinking wine instead of slaving away in the kitchen.

Tomorrow I'll be posting the Slow Cooker Stuffing/Dressing recipe - it's a variation of my mom's yummy stuffing and it's goooood!

27 Random Sassy Comments:

Chief said...

Awesome! A family favorite!

Mango Girl said...

Make ahead mashed taters? Eeee gads! I was planning on coming to your house...I will bring some pies...?!!!!

xo, Mango

mo.stoneskin said...

Winos?

We're not winos, we are just cultured sophisticats.

Justine said...

This recipe is similar to how I make everyday mashed taters, except I don't usually use cream cheese, but definitely DO use sour cream. OMG girl, sooooooooooo good. Oh, and instead of onion powder I usually use garlic powder. And, my newest trick is to cut up an onion and let it boil with the potatoes. The onion basically dissolves and adds great flavor!

Justine :o )

Jan said...

Oh my goodness, girl - thank you for the linky love (although my site seems to be down temporarily - waaaaaahhhhhh!) but even more thanks for the mashed potato recipe!

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my keyboard.

I cannot WAIT to read the rest of your recipes!! Woohoo!

buffalodick said...

I make this occasionally, but call it mashed potato casserole...

Sprite's Keeper said...

Cream cheese in the mashed potatoes? That takes heaven to a whole new level! Yum!

sheila said...

Okay, I favorited this post because I never knew you could reheat mashed taters. lol. How awesome! This is my something new for the day!

Amy said...

I love mashed taters.

Martha in PA said...

Cream cheese AND sour cream... what's not to like. I will have to try these. I'm hoping we are asked to bring something to my nephew's for Thanksgiving, it looks like you are going to be posting some yummy stuff!

Brian Miller said...

mmm...the cream chesse, sour cream and onion ad just the right touch. i have way too long to wait for thanksgiving for you to be putting me through this stacy...lol.

Jennifer Juniper said...

I usually make them in the morning and keep them warm in the crock pot, but the day before fits into my schedule much better! Thanks!

Ha, your comment about the empty lunch box made my day :)

Julie@Momspective said...

Wish I ate before I read this one. I LOVE Thanksgiving! YUM!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Pardon me, I think I just drooled all over your list. Champagne turkey! Pumpkin Cognac Creme Brulee! Apple Cranberry Pie! Sign me up.

Just Breathe said...

They sound awesome, I have to try them. We came across a really great mashed potatoes at Costco which I use often. I think I will make yours for Thanksgiving. Thanks.

Anne said...

I will have to try these. I love the idea of the cream cheese. Have you ever tried purple mashed potatoes? My kids love them, I think because they are purple. Not good for Thanksgiving (they clash with the gravy) but they are pretty for a regular meal and the purple potatoes cook quickly.

Lady Mama said...

The potatoes sounds wonderful. I LOVE mashed potatoes. I'm going to try it with another dish as I always make roast potatoes with my roast dinners. (English tradition) Thanks!

Grand Pooba said...

I just learned that potato boiling trick a few weeks ago at a cooking class! I had no idea before then, go you!

Ok, I can't wait for the pumpkin creme brule!!

blueviolet said...

You packed a lot of good tips in this post. I never in a million years would have thought to make these ahead of time.

My gosh, they sound so good.

My hubby usually makes homemade au gratin potatoes which are fabulous but if well...if...I'll make these.

Love ya!

otin said...

You are like Rachel Ray, only cuter!!! lol

U R U! said...

I so need some help with Thanksgiving dishes!! I am going to read and try every post this week!! YEA!!

I can't wait!

Thanks!

Hit 40 said...

Yummy!! My hubby will love these potatoes. I will try them with a roast.

Shraddha@theselfloveproject said...

oh!that looks delicious!!

my first day of dieting and i see this post!...dieting is hard!...

AJ @ Wedding Flip Flops said...

Wow, this is a great time saver to make them ahead. My family had an early Thanksgiving this year to celebrate. We did most of the baking that day and boy was i tired. I highly suggest making things ahead of time if possible.

Yaya said...

Oh these sounds so good! I'm gonna have to make these!

Print Postcards said...

Oh goody! I love potatoes, in any way that they're cooked, actually. This will be perfect with the turkey for sure. :D Thanks for sharing.

Shelley said...

I'm going to try these pototatoes.

It seems that when we make our potatoes ahead (or eat them leftover) they have a funny taste. Does anyone know what I mean?