James always makes the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. He has a knack for knowing when the potatoes are done, for mashing any variety without them becoming gummy, and for seasoning them perfectly too–he has a trick. He always throws garlic into the water when boiling the potatoes and the cloves leave a mild but detectable hint of flavour. I flat out stole his method for my Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, but for this fancy-pants meal, I dress them up a bit. I finish the potatoes with browned butter which makes for a richer, nuttier version that the plain, melted butter in his. I still think both versions have their place. Buttery mashed potatoes for simple meals where you want a milky, innocent side. Browned butter mashed potatoes for a feast.
Garlic and Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tbs unsalted butter
Ground white (or black) pepper
Herbs for garnish, optional
Add potatoes and garlic to a large pot and add water to cover by about an inch. Cover and bring to a boil, then cook at a steady boil, partially covered, for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are very tender.
Meanwhile, add butter to a small sauce pan and season with 1/4 tsp of salt. Melt and heat, swirling occasionally, until the butter has foamed, stopped sizzling and turns golden brown. Turn off heat and set aside–the butter will continue to brown a bit more in the residual heat.
Drain potatoes, immediately season with salt and white pepper (use black if you don’t mind the black specks or if you prefer the taste), add the butter and mash the potatoes and garlic together with a masher or a fork. Alternatively, for a more airy texture, run potatoes and garlic through a ricer, adding the butter to the bowl that catches the pureed potatoes and mix through. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish with herbs or whatever you’d like.