Recipes for Perfect Mashed Potatoes; Mashed Potato Casserole; Garlic-Parsley Potato Cakes; Sweet Potato casserole; Cider-Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Fried Sage, Garlic and Goat Cheese; Sweet Potatoes with Rum; and Fiery Sweet Potatoes.
Plain old mashed potatoes are always brilliant, and it’s hard to imagine a Thanksgiving table without them. Still, every once in a while we like to change things up. But not too much.
It is the same with sweet potatoes. What with all the pies and puddings and crisps — not to mention the ice cream and whipped cream we inevitably plop on top of them — the sweeter side of this meal appears to be covered. Should we notch down the sugar load? Or add a little spice to keep things interesting?
Whichever way, we’ve got you covered.
But before we tackle any of that, you first have to consider your potato varieties. Which variety you use depends on the type of mashed potatoes you want. If you prefer super fluffy, pure white mashed potatoes, russets are a good choice. If you’re going for ultra-buttery, use Yukon Golds. And if you like to leave the skin on all or some of the potatoes, red bliss are a good choice because their thinner skin mixes into the mash (Yukon Golds are a good middle ground, but russets are too thick).
How you mash the potatoes also changes the consistency of the dish. For ultimate fluffiness, squeeze the potatoes through a ricer. Food mills also make very smooth potatoes. If you’re going for chunky (or left the skins on), you’ll want to use a handheld potato masher. Then there’s the mixer. Some people use it, but it’s not a great choice. It can easily overwork the potatoes, breaking down the starches and producing the dreaded gluey potato syndrome. If you insist, go easy.
PERFECT MASHED POTATOES
Makes 10 servings
5 pounds potatoes, peeled or not, cut into 1-inch chunks
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 to 1½ cups half-and-half, warmed
Ground white pepper
1. Place the cut potatoes in a large pot, then add enough cool water to cover by at least 1 inch. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are very tender and a fork penetrates them easily. Timing will vary by potato variety, but should take between 10 and 15 minutes. Be careful not to let the potatoes cook beyond this point; you want them tender, not totally broken down.
2. Drain well in a colander, then return the potatoes to the pot. Set the pot over medium heat and cook for one to two minutes, shaking the pan now and again, to cook off excess moisture. Remove from the heat and put the potatoes through a ricer or a food mill, or mash with a potato masher until they are smooth, or as smooth as you like them
3. Once the potatoes are mashed to your liking, stir in the butter and 1 cup of the warmed half-and-half. If you like a wetter mashed potato, add the additional half-and-half. Season with salt and white pepper. Serve or use a variation below.
Variations: Sour cream and onion: Use sour cream in place of the half-and-half and mix in 1 bunch of chopped scallions. Add a splash of milk to adjust the consistency, if needed.
Brown butter and rosemary: In a small saucepan over medium-low, cook ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter until the milk solids on the bottom of the pan turn light brown and smell fragrant, five to six minutes. They will continue to cook a little longer, so be careful not to burn them. Stir into the potatoes in place of the room temperature butter and add 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary.
With Parmesan cheese: Once the potatoes are mashed to your liking, heat 1½ milk and ¾ cup cream together in a microwave safe bowl or pitcher for about one minute, or in a small saucepan on the stovetop, until hot. Add the hot milk and cream mixture to the potatoes along with 6 tablespoons of butter and stir with a wooden spoon or a whisk until well combined. Blend in the ½ cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, and stir over medium-low heat until everything is hot and well blended.
MASHED POTATO CASSEROLE
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
1½ cups sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
1. If potatoes are large, cut in quarters. Cook potatoes until tender in boiling, salted water. Drain and place cooked potatoes in the large bowl of electric mixer. Add sour cream, 4 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper in large bowl.
2. Beat potato mixture until light and fluffy on low speed of electric beater. Pile lightly in a buttered 2-quart casserole.
3. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if desired.
4. Bake covered in a preheated 325-degree oven about 1 hour or until heated through.
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5. Toss breadcrumbs with remaining 1 tablespoon butter, which has been melted, and sprinkle buttered crumbs over potatoes. Continue baking, uncovered about 30 minutes longer.
— From The Seattle Times archives, 1984
GARLIC-PARSLEY POTATO CAKES
Makes 8 servings (can be doubled)
2½ to 3 pounds medium-starch potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and quartered
12 whole garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup fine yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon olive oil, more for frying
1. Place potatoes, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a pot and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are just tender all the way through, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes, return to the pot, and shake over medium heat for 1 minute to dry them out.
2. Add 3 tablespoons cornmeal and the parsley and mash everything together with a potato masher, leaving the mixture chunky.
3. Whisk together egg, egg yolk, milk and 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl. Stir mixture into potatoes and season with 2½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Form potato mixture into rounds about ¾-inch thick. Put remaining cornmeal in a shallow dish.
5. Working in batches, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat potato cakes on each side in cornmeal, brown on both sides in the skillet and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining potato cakes, adding more oil as needed between batches. (At this point, cakes can be set aside at room temperature for up to four hours.)
6. Bake until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.
— Adapted by The New York Times from “Recipes from Home” by David Page and Barbara Shinn
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
Makes 8 to 10 servings
3½ pounds sweet potatoes (see note*)
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
6 tablespoons whipping cream or half-and-half
Scant ½ teaspoon ground allspice
Scant ½ teaspoon ground ginger
Scant ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups large marshmallows, each cut into quarters
1. Place a sheet of heavy-duty foil on center oven rack and preheat to 425 degrees. Pierce each sweet potato in several places and place in oven. Bake about 1 hour, or until very tender when tested in the centers. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
2. When cool enough to handle, open the potatoes and scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Add 6 tablespoons butter, cream, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, salt, pepper, brown sugar and lemon juice. Mash with a potato masher until semi-smooth. (The dish can be made 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator one hour before baking.)
3. Spray a 2½-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Pile the mashed sweet potatoes into the dish. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven about 20 minutes. Top with marshmallows and continue baking 25 minutes, or until golden on top.
* Note: Try to use the red-fleshed Jewel or Garnet variety of sweet potato. The Garnet is often labeled as a yam in supermarkets.
— From The Seattle Times archives, adapted in 2003 from “One Potato Two Potato” by Roy Finamore and Molly Stevens
CIDER-GLAZED SWEET POTATOES WITH FRIED SAGE, GARLIC AND GOAT CHEESE
4 cups apple cider
4 large (about 4 pounds) sweet potatoes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
12 fresh sage leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1. Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Mist the foil with cooking spray.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high, bring the cider to a boil. Lower the heat to maintain a strong simmer and cook until reduced to ½ cup.
3. Meanwhile, cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into quarters lengthwise to produce eight long wedges from each sweet potato.
4. Once the cider is reduced, add the potato wedges and toss to coat. Arrange the wedges, skin side down, in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 35 minutes, or until tender. If the glaze darkens too much before the wedges are cooked, drizzle ½ cup of water over them and stir lightly.
5. While the potatoes cook, fry the sage. In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the sage and cook for three to four minutes, or until crisp, turning once or twice. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sage from the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Add the garlic to the oil, cooking for one or two minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside, leaving the garlic in the oil.
6. When the potatoes are cooked, transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with the garlic oil and garlic, as well as any pan drippings from the roasted potatoes. Top with the crumbled goat cheese and fried sage. Serve warm or at room temperature.
— Alison Ladman, The Associated Press
SWEET POTATOES WITH RUM
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup heavy cream
3 to 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum, optional
1. Settle potatoes in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Stir in sugar, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil, lower heat a bit and cook until potatoes turn tender (poke one with a skewer or fork), about 15 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes. Return them to the empty pot set over low heat. Shake until potatoes dry out, about three minutes.
3. Press potatoes through a potato ricer into a large heatproof bowl. Or smash with a potato masher.
4. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Gently stir in butter, cream and brown sugar. Add a little more of the spices, if you like. Stir in rum, if you like.
— Adapted by the Chicago Tribune from chef Cindy Wolf, Baltimore.
FIERY SWEET POTATOES
Makes 10 to 12 servings
5 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
½ cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake potatoes on sheet pan until very soft, about 75 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash.
2. In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk with curry paste over low heat. Mix coconut milk mixture, half the sugar, half the butter and salt into potatoes. Keep warm until ready to serve, or cover and refrigerate up to two days.
3. At least 30 minutes before serving, heat oven to 425 degrees. Put potatoes in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover, dot with remaining butter and sugar and broil until brown and crusty, checking often to prevent scorching.
— Julia Moskin, The New York Times