My mom makes really good mashed potatoes. When I was a kid, it was kind of a big deal because she used “gobs of butter” and butter doesn’t really get used in Chinese cooking. Mom would hover over the stove with her hand mixer and whip the potatoes into clouds of something fabulous. Nowadays she always makes garlic mash with red new potatoes, which are super delish.
I put garlic in everything, and just in case you readers are sick of it, or have had GM overdose because it’s in so many restaurants, here’s a little something new for you. This is one of my favorite variations on mash, and is so easy to make!
Sweet Onion and Cheese Mashed Potatoes
serves 6 unless they really, really like potatoes.
6 cups potatoes, diced into 1-inch chunks (about 6 medium potatoes)
1 giant onion or 4 small ones (finely chopped or thrown into a blender)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Gruyère…)
pinch of salt
salted water for boiling
See options below for additional ingredients
I grew up with Russet potatoes, and they can be used for this recipe, but waxy types, like red or yellow (shown here) will also do great. I don't know about blue, though, because I haven't tried them yet, so maybe hold off on that for now. I like the peels on, but you can ditch them if you so please. As for onions, you can use any kind as well, because they all sweeten up nicely when sautéed.
Get a giant pot, fill it with the diced potatoes, throw in a pinch of salt, fill it with water to cover the chunks, and put it on over high heat. While that's going, prep the onions if they aren't done already, by chopping them finely or throwing them into a blender for a purée, resulting in a smoother consistency. I washed dishes all day (the horror!) and was not up for dealing with the blender pieces after, so here are my chopped onions. Use 1/4 cup of the butter to cook them over low-medium heat until they soften up and then turn golden like this, or slightly darker for a fantastic caramelly taste. Let the potatoes cook at a boil for about 10 minutes and check with a fork. Easy poke-ability means they're ready and you should put them in the strainer.
Combine the potatoes and onions (don't lose any of the melted butter!), add in the other 1/4 cup of butter, pick up your weapon of choice, and start mashing away, folding the mess every now and then to incorporate the onion bits.
Add the cheese and a pinch of salt. You might need a little more salt if your butter doesn't have any in it. I used Gruyère cheese because, well, it's my favorite, the mellow, soft flavour goes really well with the sweet onions, and it isn't very greasy when it melts. Try to make sure that it all ends up in the potatoes and not in your mouth.
Yum-o! I like the potatoes really thick, and they taste very rich, but if you want, you can add some milk (try 1/4 cup at a time...any kind but skim!) and whip it to make it lighter.
Hey! It gets better! I never made a gratin before, but was feeling spontaneous and topped one of the little ramekin cups of potatoey goodness with more cheese, some breadcrumbs, and a liiiittle bit of ground flax seeds. Try this or throwing in some herbs if you're feeling fancy dancy.
Preheat the oven to BROIL and move the rack to the second-highest. I put this little one on a baking pan (in case stuff falls off and chars for eternity until you clean it) and left it in there for about 5 minutes. Make sure to check on it every minute or so, because things can burn really easily on broil, especially when your oven is like mine, where the door doesn't have a window!
I was at my brother’s place and was tasked with making mashed potatoes for a lunch. I asked for the ingredients, and thankfully, my brother was out of chicken broth, because his friend said “He doesn’t know what he’s doing! Shhh!! Use butter! Don’t listen to him!”
My house is a Real Butter House, and his is a Chicken Broth House. If you’d like to substitute chicken broth or veggie broth, go right on ahead, but do find something to sautée the onions in, to keep them from sticking and burning, and taste/season to adjust to how you like it. If you are gluten sensitive, forgo the bread crumbs in the topping, obviously, and use the ground flax with the cheese and maybe even some finely crushed nuts! I’m really looking forward to that little gratin-ized ramekin as part of my lunch tomorrow. Mmm!