Before we go any further, let me just say that I do NOT own a ricer.
Yes, I am a culinary heretic.
However, I have been “mashing” my potatoes on the “low” setting of my cheap little Sunbeam hand mixer since dinosaurs roamed the earth (amazing, the technology that was available back then), and I have never had them come out “gluey” or “pasty”. A little runny once in a blue moon, from getting overzealous with the half and half, but never gummy. And they are always delicious. I’ve been pricing ricers but I can’t seem to justify spending between $30 and $60, considering they only do one thing and I have enough single-use kitchen gadgets that I rarely use.
But I digress.
Mostly, I make plain mashed potatoes – boil the taters, drain them, throw them back in the pot over low heat and shake them around a bit to evaporate the extra moisture, throw in a little salt and pepper, about half a stick of softened butter then “mash” them a little with the Sunbeam mixer. Add some half and half, and “mash” them on low a little bit more. The secret is the very judicious use of the mixer, and they (almost) always come out nice and fluffy and delicious.
These, though, I made for Thanksgiving and they were a HUGE hit – even The Young One ate them. I made a ton, and they are the ONLY leftover besides the turkey that are completely gone. They do take a little planning, since you have to roast the garlic ahead of time, but they are so very, very worth it.
Note: if you can’t find Vermont white cheddar, regular will be fine, although your potatoes will be a little orangey. Freshly shredded Parmesan works well, also.
Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
serves 4 – 6
1 large head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably at room temperature
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup shredded white Vermont cheddar
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 400° F.
Remove most of the papery outer covering from the head of garlic, but leave it intact. Slice the top 1/4 inch off, exposing the cloves of garlic and drizzle with the olive oil, coating it well; sprinkle with the kosher salt. Wrap in foil and roast in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes, until soft but not brown, and cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the whole cloves out and set aside. (I mash them to a paste with a fork at this point.)
In a 4-quart saucepan cover potatoes with water by 2 inches and simmer until very tender, 20 – 30 minutes. Drain in a colander and return to the hot pan over very low heat. Shake the potatoes in the pan until the excess moisture evaporates and a very thin film begins to form on the bottom of the saucepan; remove from heat. Mash potatoes slightly with an electric mixer on low; add butter and half and half and mix on low until incorporated and the potatoes begin to become smooth. Add the garlic and cheese and mix gently until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.