Foxhole conversion.

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Lean in close, I have a confession to make. Up until one week ago I didn’t care much for mashed potatoes. Really, I could take them or leave them.

I’ve tried to fall in love with the prize of dinner tables across America. They just didn’t get me excited. Until last week.

It was my pre-Thanksgiving demo at Eastern Market. Marvin at Long Meadow had beautiful Russets and it seemed a shame not to serve them up light, fluffy, creamy and rich. I sat down and did some reading. The recipe, it turns out, is simple and perfect.

What’s the secret to the world’s best mashed potatoes? Three things.

  1. Use a good starchy potato. Yukon Golds are okay, but Russets are the best. Several people have praised Kennebecks as well. I’d love to try them.
  2. Pass the potatoes through a ricer or food mill*. The less you work them the fluffier they are. Beaters just make them gummy.
  3. Crème fraîche. The one thing lacking amidst the comforting starchy potatoes, rich cream and butter, salt and pepper, was a little bite. Something to keep your palate from being lulled to sleep. Sour cream is too sharp. Crème fraîche is the perfect answer.

So this year I will finally join those of you who have been extolling their virtues and raise a glass – and a large sauceboat filled with gravy – to a bowl filled with fluffy, rich mashed potatoes. Happy Thanksgiving!

*Bonus! The food mill will catch the skins. No more potato peeling. Don’t worry, you can find another job for cousin Johnny!

Masterfully Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3 large Russet potatoes
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 tbs crème fraîche

Directions:

  • Boil whole and unpeeled potatoes until a paring knife easily pierces to the center, but potatoes are not falling apart.
  • Using the finest disc, press potatoes – peels and all – through a food mill into a medium bowl. The food mill will catch the peels.
  • Stir butter, cream and crème fraîche into warm potatoes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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