garlic mashed potatoes
I love Thanksgiving and secretly wish we could have Thanksgiving at least twice a year. I like that it’s a rare enough occurrence to remain special, but I also wish it were acceptable to make such obscenely large meals on a somewhat more regular basis.
This Thanksgiving, we visited my Aunt Jo in Louisiana. When my Aunt Jo said grace before the meal, she expressed gratitude for both our American heritage and our family heritage. It made me think about one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving: how the meal is an expression of our family heritage. My family is scattered across the country, and especially after getting married, my family tree has a lot of branches–we can’t possibly spend the holidays with all of them at once. But at Thanksgiving, we can eat food made with recipes our various families have been using for decades. Some of the recipes have even been passed down by people that are no longer with us, but are with us not only in our hearts but — especially at Thanksgiving — in our tummies. And I love that.
This Thanksgiving, we had pecan pie from the classic Karo recipe. I can’t remember whether my mom’s parents or dad’s parents first used this recipe, but I do know that whoever first used it served it to the other set of grandparents, who then asked for the recipe. The response was that the recipe’s on the back of the Karo bottle. Why people use any other recipe for pecan pie is beyond me, although I do recommend a splash of bourbon (my mom’s dad’s addition).
We also had my mom’s cornbread stuffing. It’s phenomenal. According to the beloved carnivore and my Aunt Jenny, it tastes good on a leftover turkey sandwich with green bean casserole. I think that sounds repulsive and refuse to try it.
With some help from the beloved carnivore, I made his mom’s fried sweet potatoes, which were delicious, although I think I messed them up a little bit (but there’s always next year to try again).
And, of course, my grandmother’s rolls. The only rolls in existence which make perfectly rational (mostly) family members argue about whether the children in the family have had more than their fair share of rolls. We also had a debate about whether or not we should cover them with Saran-Wrap or dishtowels while they were rising. I was firmly in the dishtowels camp, but Aunt Jo was worried that her dishtowels were too heavy. Like the amazing mom & aunt that she is, she just cut up an old shirt to cover the rolls with. I’ll never forget it.
The traditional dishes–of which there were many, many more–also made room for some new, if not terribly original recipes, like my mashed potatoes. These mashed potatoes were made a gajillion times tastier by my Aunt Jo’s brilliant idea.
Not only did we first roast some whole garlic heads for the potatoes, but we used the olive oil that we roasted the garlic in and poured that yummy, garlic-infused olive oil straight into the mashed potatoes. It made the garlic flavor more consistent and made the potatoes, well, more delicious.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
An Amanda and Aunt Jo Original
- 5-6 lb new potatoes
- 2-3 heads of garlic
- 2-3 TBSP olive oil
- 8 TBSP unsalted butter
- generous splash of heavy cream
- generous splash of whole milk
- salt and black pepper, to taste (but I used a lot, probably 2 tsp of salt and 3 tsp of medium-grind black pepper)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Slice the tops off of the garlic heads–if you’ve managed to find particularly large heads of garlic, you can slice them in half and use both halves. Place them in a small, oven-safe dish or ramekin–I think we placed them on their sides, but I’m not sure it matters. Brush the garlic heads with the olive oil and pour the rest of the olive oil on top and place the dish or ramekin in the oven. Leave in the oven for an hour or so, brushing with additional olive oil as necessary. The garlic will be ready when it looks like this (although this picture was taken when we’d removed the garlic heads from the ramekin and placed them on a plate).
Set aside the garlic cloves and the ramekin, leaving the olive oil in the ramekin for now.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, cut the new potatoes into even quarters or, if the potatoes are particularly large, eighths. As a side note, I prefer mashed potatoes with new potatoes because you can leave the skins on and the mashed potatoes will be delicious. Toss the potatoes into the water and boil them until they are tender when pricked with a fork. The time this takes will depend on a lot of factors, especially the altitude at which you’re cooking (high altitude will make it take much longer), so boil the potatoes early and when they’re tender, drain them in a colander and run cold water over them until they are no longer warm to the touch. When they are cooled and drained completely, set them aside.
When you’re about twenty or so minutes away from the start time of dinner, return the potatoes to the pot. Turn the burner to medium heat and begin mashing the potatoes. While mashing/reheating, pour in the garlic-infused olive oil from the ramekin and add in about one head’s worth of the roasted garlic cloves. Refrigerate the rest of the roasted garlic heads for other uses. Once the potatoes are beginning to get warm again, add in the butter and the generous splashes of heavy cream and milk. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
When the mashed potatoes are warmed and have achieved the consistency you want (which is a matter of personal taste), transfer to a serving bowl and eat up.
These keep well, so keep the leftovers and continue eating up after the big meal is over.
P.S. Aunt Jo, let me know if I’m forgetting a step with the garlic!