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creamy mashed potatoes with leeks

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 If my family were asked to participate in a poll as to whether they preferred rice or mashed potatoes rice would win almost unanimously.  Almost,  because my hand would be the one to go up for rice but I’d also raise it for mashed potatoes with the explanation that there is a time for rice and a time for mashed potatoes.  I can never just answer yes or no  there is always a “but”  or lengthy explanation lurking behind my short answers. I really don’t have a preference for one or the other, for me it depends on the occasion.  Rice is more rustic and suited for informal dinners and gatherings.  Here’s  why: it doesn’t stay put.   On the short journey from plate to mouth a few grains are bound to, ungracefully,fall from the fork.   Sometimes they fall on you.  Rice doesn’t cooperatively scoop onto your fork, you have to make twists and curves to get just the right amount on the utensil.  Finally,  it doesn’t make a great bed for say a tender short rib or meaty lamb shank, for as soon as you lay the meat on top it starts to slowly sink down.   With all those spaces in between each grain it doesn’t make a good vehicle for gravy and sauces,  the minute the gravy is spooned on top everything turns into a puddle  onto your plate.   No, for ease of eating and elegance you’ve got to go with mashed potatoes.  Thick and creamy yet if done right full of fluff  and light as air. Mashed potatoes are smooth yet sturdy enough to hold up to a meaty short rib and the gravy too.  You can eat mashed potatoes and know that halfway between plate and mouth you will not lose one bit.  Which makes it great for dinner parties and formal dinners. 

It is rare that I serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving in fact you could say I never serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving at my house is not a formal affair.  It is a plates piled high contest of who can eat the most and get the most food on one plate.  It is excess. It is beautiful.  It is many spoonfuls of different items  touching  each other on the plate with no room in between.  Mashed potatoes would be forgotten among the  bowls  of  cornbread sausage stuffing,  truly candied sweet potatoes,  rice and beans, collard greens,   five cheese macaroni and cheese  just to name a few.  This year I wanted mashed potatoes.  I wanted something different to eat with my turkey and herb gravy.  I wanted my starch to stay on the fork.  I am not delusional,  I don’t expect there will be many cries of please pass the mashed potatoes and there will be plenty of leftovers. I don’t even expect it to make a return appearance next year. But this year I will have my mashed potatoes. I’ve decided I  will have the best of both worlds and  I will use the mashed potatoes as glue to keep the rice on my fork.  Now that’s a novel idea.  Have a safe , happy and plentiful Thanksgiving, Kat.


Mashed potatoes with leeks,  adapted from
Plain mashed potatoes are great but a special occasion is the perfect time to add some kick to a favorite recipe.  Leeks go great with potatoes.  A leek is a bit like an onion but more subtle in flavor.  In this recipe the leeks are pureed and then folded into the mashed potatoes.  Finicky eaters will never even notice they are there.  This recipe makes 12 cups enough for a large gathering.  The recipe can easily be halved for smaller gathereings.
12  baking potatoes
4 large leeks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1/2 cup butter
2 cups chicken broth
salt and white pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
Peel potatoes and quarter them.  Put in a pot of cold water with some salt and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and cook until tender, 15-20 minutes.
Clean and chop leeks.  Be sure to remove all dirt in between.  Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large  saute pan.  Add the leeks and sweat until they are soft and translucent.  Add the chicken broth and a little salt and white pepper and simmer 3-4 minutes.  Puree all in a blender and put aside.
Mash the potatoes with a masher or put through a food mill or ricer. Add the leeks, sour cream 1/2 cup butter, and milk.  Gently fold everything together until it is creamy and the leeks are uniformly mixed in.  Season to taste with salt and more white pepper.  Can be reheated in the microwave before serving.

5 responses »

  1. Kathy, I can always count on your blog to make my mouth water and my mind plan to when I will make whatever you just posted! I was happy to read you and your family survived the storm without too much damage. My best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving holiday. Michele


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