Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Mashed PotatoesBefore 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.