Thanksgiving and Idaho Potatoes Mashed Two Ways

Idaho Potato Harvest

It’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving, and there’s a proverbial elephant in the room. I’m talking about the potato. Specifically the mashed potato. Potatoes Mashed Two Ways

I’d tell you to make room and squeeze in another chair around the table for this honored guest, except I know Mr. Mashed Potato was the first dude you thought about when you started your Thanksgiving invite list.

One reason mashed potatoes show up year after year is because everyone loves potatoes. Let me say that louder EVERYONE LOVES POTATOES. So in order to be prepared for all that Potato Love I made a trip to Idaho as the guest of Idaho Potatoes for the potato harvest. What I learned about potatoes was quite a lot. So much that I’ve decided to spend a week exploring all the possibilities for Thanksgiving Potato Recipes using several of the best varieties from Idaho.

Starting with Mashed Russet Potatoes. The amazing thing about mashed potatoes is that everyone knows how to make them. There’s no wrong way. No matter who makes them and what they put in them they always get scooped onto the Thanksgiving plate before any other side dish.

So it’s seems pointless for me to sit here pecking out a recipe for mashed potatoes. I know that nobody is really going to care about my particular persnickety proclamations. Because each and every one of you will be thinking to himself or herself… “Well that sounds good Greg, but I do it this way”. Which just proves my point, when it comes to mashed potatoes there is no one right way. So I may as well hold my opinions to myself.

But that is so unlike me! Still, I know by the time I get through my million and one tips, guidelines and pronouncements people will have lost interest and clicked on through to the next pretty picture on Pinterest. Because the truth is, no matter how many fun facts, historical anecdotes or photos from my trip to Idaho I were to put forth regarding these tasty tubers, I know in my heart of hearts the only question your ravenous family will ask regarding my heavily researched, lovingly written ode to pere spud will be, “Is there more?…”

So I’ve decided to skip the fun facts and just give you more–  plenty more. By the time I’m finsihed you’ll have seven new potato recipes, just in time for the most potato-centric holiday I know. Thanksgiving. So sit tight and get ready for recipes number one and two. My take on mashed potatoes two ways. One simple, the other sumptuous. I’ll leave the deciding of which is which to you.

Let’s start with traditional. To me the classiest of all the mashed potatoes is the rich and highly aromatic Garlic Mashed Potatoes. It is an easy recipe and it’s quite simple and the very best potatoes from Idaho help you achieve the very best results. So I call this version Simply The Best Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

mashed potatoesSimply The Best Garlic Mashed Potatoes serves 8 to 10 click here for printable recipe

  • 4 lb Idaho russet potatoes
  • 1 head peeled garlic cloves (about 15 cloves)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter,

Peel potatoes and quarter lengthwise; cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick. In a 5-quart saucepan, combine potatoes and garlic cloves; cover with water (about 8 cups) by 1 inch. Add 1-tablespoon salt.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 25 to 30 minutes.

Drain; return garlic and potatoes to pan. Stir over medium-high heat until dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil; pour over potatoes. Add butter and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mash by whatever method you prefer until smooth and creamy or a little limpy. However you like them.

Now that whole ‘nother version I mentioned.

This hefty concoction is what is known as potatoes with all the bells and whistles. Some people call them loaded, because they are indeed loaded up with flavor. It borrows all the best from the beloved Twice Baked Potato, but dishes it all out in a big ole yacht instead of a hollowed out little potato boat! Perfect for a Thanksgiving crowd.

loaded mashed potatoesMashed Potatoes Loaded with Bacon and Cheddar serves 12 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 5 lb idaho russet potatoes
  • 10 sli bacon
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1/4 c chives, minced
  • 2 1/2 c cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender and easily pierced with a paring knife, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain; return to pan, cover, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp and browned, turning once. Transfer to paper towels to drain; let cool, and crumble into pieces.

Using a fork, mash the potatoes in pan until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese, butter, and sour cream, and stir until combined and smooth. Add the chives, 2 cups cheddar cheese, half the bacon, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.

Transfer to a buttered 3-quart baking dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake until top is slightly golden and potatoes are heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; garnish with remaining bacon. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart