Recipes

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

What’s the best thing about mashed potatoes? How fluffy, buttery and delicious they are, right? But there’s a dark side — all that peeling, chopping, boiling and mashing by hand the morning of a big meal, which almost makes you dread having them. Well, not anymore.

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As I mentioned in my Christmas Dinner post, I used a new recipe (new to me, anyway) from the Pioneer Woman, which calls for baking the potatoes the day before (I KNOW) and then popping them in the oven just half an hour before you eat. I had to try it. I love, love, LOVE buttery mashed potatoes, and yet they are such a pain when you’re trying to time the rest of a big meal to be ready all at once. Well, this make-ahead tip 100% worked for me, so I am posting it here in the hopes it’ll save you some time down the line. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-lb. bag of Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8-oz. container of plain cream cheese
  • 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Peel and cut the potatoes evenly into halves or quarters. Set a large pot of water on to boil, and when the water is simmering rapidly, add the potatoes. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them in a large colander. When they are done draining, place them back into the dry cooking pot on the stove over low heat. Mash by hand with a potato masher over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape.

Turn off the stove and add the softened butter, starting with one stick and adding more to your taste. Then add the cream cheese and half a cup of the half-and-half or heavy cream, again adding more to your taste. Mash until there are no more lumps.

Taste and season with salt and pepper, taking care not to under-salt.

Stir well and add to a medium sized baking dish. Top with a few pats of butter and put it in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to bake it.

If you’re eating it right away, just bake at 350 until the butter on top is melted and the potatoes are warmed through. If you’re making ahead of time, take it out of the fridge an hour or two before your meal and heat for 25 to 30 minutes at the same temperature.

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Chopping the potatoes into smaller pieces hastens the cooking time. Half or at the most quartered should do it, otherwise they’ll fall apart in the water.

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Using a hand-held potato masher is the only way to go. An electric mixer sometimes makes the potatoes glue-y.

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Make sure you’ve set the butter out to soften for a bit before mixing it into the potatoes. I also like to leave the half-and-half and cream cheese out for a few minutes to come closer to room temperature before using.

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Make sure you taste before putting the potatoes into your baking dish to make sure they’ve been salted enough!

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Yum.

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Meat-free Shepherd’s Pie

This one truly was a triumph. I actually – wait for it – fooled the husband. I let him eat three helpings before I told him it wasn’t beef.

Looks like beef, doesn't it? It's portobello mushroom.

The weather just turned crisp and cool in New England, so I got a hankering for Shepherd’s Pie. My mom makes the absolute best — simple sauteed beef & onions, creamed corn, mashed potatoes — and I wanted to re-create the taste and texture of it while designing a meat-free, yet still hearty and delicious, version. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

  • 4 frozen portobello burger patties, thawed in refrigerator (or, about 2 cups of chopped and de-gilled fresh portobello mushroom caps. 2 cups chopped = roughly 2 whole mushroom caps.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2-3 carrots,cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 or 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed for boiling
  • Butter/ butter substitute (for skillet and potatoes)
  • Cream/milk/soy cream/dairy sub of your choice (for mashing potatoes)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to give the mushrooms a meaty flavor. (*Worcestershire sauce traditionally contains anchovies, but you can find varieties that do not. You could also substitute Henderson’s Relish, which has a similar flavor but is 100% vegan*).
Beautiful organic carrots from Sparrow Arc Farm in Maine.

Directions

Set the potatoes on to boil while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Heat butter in a good-sized skillet over medium and add the onions, sauteeing until translucent. Add the portobello mushrooms and brown them, adding a dab of butter as necessary to keep the pan from sticking.

Add the carrots, cover and reduce to low-medium, stirring occasionally until carrots are tender.

Add worcestershire sauce (eyeball it) and other seasonings to your personal preference. (You know me — my favorite is the Trader Joe’s 21-seasoning salute).

Take off heat and spread the “meat” mixture into a 9×13 glass baking dish or two 8×8 square glass baking dishes (I did this because I was making one for us and one for my husband’s grandfather, who is almost 90. Hi Granddad!)

Top the “meat” mixture with the canned corn, spreading out evenly over the dish, and then with the creamed corn, doing the same.

Finally, drain and mash your potatoes, adding butter and cream (substituting non-dairy as per your diet) and salt if you prefer. I use a hand-masher to keep things quick and simple.

Spread the potatoes evenly atop the corn.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 35 minutes, uncovering for the last 5 minutes to brown the potatoes. I actually set mine under the broiler for the final 5 minutes of cooking time because I like a crisp shell of potato to dig into.

Cool briefly and serve.

You can also assemble and cook the next day / at someone else’s house like I did. In my opinion, Shepherd’s Pie, traditional and otherwise, is a dish that improves when it is reheated as leftovers.