Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Sometimes the love of cooking clashes with the love of entertaining. It's not always possible to have a clean kitchen, people over, converse with friends, and cook a meal all at the same time. However, because I so love doing all of these things, I don't always want to give up one thing, in lieu of another. This is where prep work comes in handy. I'm not just talking about washing, chopping, and mixing-- but actually preparing dishes fully, that then just need to be popped in the oven or on the grill before serving. In fact, my whole Christmas Day dinner, is planned around dishes that need oven cooking, and that can all be prepared ahead of time; in order to maximize my family time. Who want's to be in the kitchen cooking by themselves when they could be opening presents, playing games and drinking Mimosa's? Not me.
One of my go-to prep-ahead dishes is these make-ahead mashed potatoes. Who doesn't love mashed potatoes? They. Go. With. Everything. And? Everyone loves them. This recipe is so full of flavor, that no one will know you made them ahead of time! Trust me.
10 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup butter, (save the paper or foil the butter is wrapped in for later)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, sliced into thin pats
1 Tablespoon diced chives
Finishing Salt ( I prefer Maldon)
Fill a large stock pot 2/3 full of cold, generously salted water. As you peel and quarter your potatoes, place them directly in the water. This prevents potatoes from becoming discolored, and by bringing both the potatoes and the water up to a boil at the same time you eliminate some of the gumminess that can occur when mashing potatoes. I don't know exactly why this works so well, but it does, and I wouldn't do it any other way!
Bring water and potatoes to a boil. Cook on high for about 30 minutes before testing with a fork. You want the fork to go into the potato easily, but not so easily that it breaks the potato apart. Continue cooking and testing every 5 minutes until potatoes are easily pierced by a fork - you don't want to over cook them.
Drain potatoes, and return to stock pot. Add cream, chicken stock, sour cream, salt and 1/2 cup butter. Use a potato masher to mix. This ensures a rustic texture to your potatoes and again helps to avoid gumminess (the number one no-no in mashed potatoes-- you can over mash).
Butter a 9 x 11 baking dish using the leftover butter wrapper to do so. Spoon in mashed potatoes.
This is where if you are making ahead, you can cool, cover with foil, and refrigerate the potatoes for a later time. No more than 2 days ahead.
To serve, remove potatoes from the refrigerator while preheating the oven to 350. This will allow them to come to room temperature, and ensure a more even cook. Bake, still covered, on a middle shelf for 30-45 minutes, testing the middle for heat after the first 30 minutes. The temperature of the potatoes before placing them in the oven will play a role on how long they need to be reheated. You don't want them to brown, so keep them covered, and check them often after the first 30 minutes.
When heated through, remove pan from oven, remove foil, and top the potatoes with the 1/4 cup of sliced butter, chives, and a pinch of finishing salt.
* This recipe can be easily doubled, or even tripled for a large crowd or family get-together. However, remember that potatoes can be different sizes, so you want to taste them after adding in the measured amounts, to see if you need any additional butter, cream, stock, sour cream, or salt. Tasting is key.