When Lulu and I first got married, we invited Lulu's uncle and his family over for dinner. I made grilled steaks and pommes mousseline (mashed potatoes in French). Five years later they still talk about the meal, so here is the recipe for my garlic mashed potatoes just in time for Thanksgiving.
The secret to incredibly fluffy mashed potatoes is to use a combination of heavy cream, crème fraîche and butter. I know, it's not the healthiest mashed potato recipe, but once you try it, you'll never want to go back. For added flavor, I roasted a head of garlic and squeezed the contents into the dish, along with chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Try to resist. I dare you!
Servings: 12 servings
8 Russet potatoes, about 4 pounds
1 head fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon thyme, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup crème fraîche
3/4 cup heavy cream, as needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese powder (see tips)
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
How to roast garlic:
Preheat the oven at 400°F.
Cut the top off the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of thyme and kosher salt. Place in a terra cotta roaster or wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 1 hour. Allow to cool completely. As soon as it's not too hot to handle, squeeze out the softened garlic cloves. Set aside.
Boiling the potatoes:
Peel the potatoes, cut them into 2-inch chunks and place them in a large pot. Fill it with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a roaring boil, they might fall apart). Cook for about 20-25 minutes. The potatoes should be fork-tender. Remove from the pot and drain; allow the potatoes to cool a little.
Warm the crème fraîche and the heavy cream, separately, for 30 seconds in the microwave (or in a saucepan).
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have dried thoroughly, return them to the pot over low heat (to ensure there is as little liquid as possible). Turn off the heat. Using a potato masher or a potato ricer, mash the potatoes. Add butter, the puréed roasted garlic, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and lemon zest. Stir well, using a wooden spoon. Add the warm crème fraîche, then add the heavy cream until you reach the desired consistency (I used 3/4 cup of cream). Finish with the parmesan cheese.
Serve warm with gravy on the side.
If you re-heat the mashed potatoes, it's preferable to use a double boiler. For an easy double boiler, place the mashed potatoes in a heat-proof bowl over a larger-sized saucepan filled with simmering water. I always like to add a little kitchen towel underneath the bowl. That way the bowl won't jiggle and there won't be any splatter of water in the mashed potatoes.
With leftover mashed potatoes, you can make a shepherd pie.
A big no-no is to mash the potatoes in a food processor or a blender; the texture will be gooey and sticky and the result won't be good. The best way is to use a food mill, a potato masher or a potato ricer. You can also manually mash the potatoes using food service disposable gloves. And most important, do NOT over-work the mashed potatoes.
You can make your own crème fraîche, check out the recipe by clicking on the link. You can substitute sour cream for the crème fraîche but I find the texture and taste to be different. Quick fact: crème fraîche has more flavor with 28% fat whereas sour cream contains "only" between 12 and 16%.
If you use a terra cotta roaster for the garlic, it's preferable to add 2-3 tablespoons of water at the bottom of the roaster before covering it, for an easy clean-up. Don't worry, the flavor will remain intact.
I finely chop a 3-inch chunk of parmesan and place the morsels in a mini food processor to make parmesan powder.
If you're a `tater lover, check out my oven roasted potatoes!