Studio 5 Contributor Sue Neal gives some ideas for how to pull off a Gourmet Mashed Potato Bar.
Gourmet Mashed Potato Bar Tasting Menu
Garlic Mashed Potatoes paired with Coq au Vin
Horseradish Mashed Potatoes paired with Braised Short Ribs
Wasabi Mashed Potatoes paired with Thai Coconut Chili Shrimp
(Recipes are available through under the “Recipes” tab on the Studio 5 website.)
I first saw this idea at the St. Regis in Deer Valley at a fancy fund-raising event and thought it was brilliant! I knew I had to try my own version.
I love to have friends over, but do not enjoy stressing over preparing food up to the last minute. This menu will free your hands, your table and your mind, as everything can be prepared ahead of time (refer to prep schedule below).
Don’t set the table; instead, use the food as a tasting menu, complete with instructions (what is paired with what), bowls and I even gave my guests a ranking sheet, so we could see which dish was preferred. It was a lot of fun and really filled the evening.
6 Steps to Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Of course, when the potatoes are the star of the show, you have to make sure they are pretty perfect.
1. Use Starchy Potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
2. Cut uniformly and bring to boil in salty water
3. Drain and dry cook on low for 1 minute
4. Use a food mill or ricer to mash
5. Add HOT liquids (Cream etc…) and room temp additions (butter etc…)
6. Salt Liberally
• Lumpy: Undercooked Potatoes
• Gummy: Overcooked Potatoes, too much water left on potatoes, used Waxy Potatoes and/or over mixed.
BASIC MASHED POTATO RECIPE
• 5 lbs starchy potatoes (Russets or Golds)
• 6 Tbsp. Butter, soft.
• 1to 2 cups milk, hot.
• Kosher Salt
• White pepper
• Cut potatoes to uniform size. The size depends on how long you cook them. If they are big chunks, plan on 15-20 minutes. If they are 2″ squares check after 10 minutes. They should be fork tender. Pierce potato with fork, if it enters easily and breaks a bit they are done. Do not overcook, or the potatoes will start to disintegrate.
• Drain well, return to pan and cook over low heat to remove any trace of water.
• Mash. Best way is with a ricer or food mill. They will be fluffy and lump-free.
• Add butter, 1 cup hot milk, salt and pepper. Mix just until combined. Do you want smoother potatoes, add more milk. Taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
If you want a healthier mashed potato, add low-fat milk and cut the butter completely. As long as it’s salted properly, they are wonderful, especially for every-day family meals.
But to really add some ‘zing’ to your potatoes consider adding the following.
• Hot Liquids: Whole milk, Half & Half, Cream, Buttermilk
• In addition to butter: Sour cream, Cream cheese, marscapone cheese, shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, goat cheese, Boursin or any other kind of flavored soft cheese
• Other root vegetables: celery root (my favorite), parsnip, rutabega, turnips, carrot, kohlrabi.
• Flavor: Roasted Garlic, Horse Radish and Wasabi (see recipes below), Red pepper flakes, chopped green chilis, caramelized onions or shallots.
• Herbs: chives, parsley, cilantro, thyme. Go easy with sage or rosemary.
I doubled the recipe for each of the 3 kinds of mashed potato and a group of 24 people ate two thirds of everything.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Prepare basic Mashed Potato recipe, but substitute buttermilk for milk. Cut a Garlic Bulb in half (do not peel), drizzle with olive oil on cut sides, wrap in foil and roast in 350 oven for one hour. Squeeze out garlic cloves and mash. Add a quarter of the paste to potatoes and taste, keep adding to your personal taste. Garnish with Cheddar cheese.
Horse Radish Mashed Potatoes: Prepare basic Mashed Potato recipe, but add ½ cup sour cream and only 3 Tbsp of butter. Add 4 Tbsp Prepared Horse Radish, 1 Tbsp at a time to determine your personal taste. Garnish with chopped chives.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Prepare basic Mashed Potato recipe. Thaw a small pkg of frozen Spinach. Chop ½ cup of spinach finely and heat in microwave before adding to mashed potatoes. You will not taste the Spinach, but it will give it a green color. Add 3 Tbsp of Wasabi paste, 1 Tbsp at a time to determine your personal taste. Garnish with chopped Cilantro.
Any dish you serve with mashed potatoes would work for this concept,
but there are a few things you should think about before you start.
Make sure the food is fork-friendly. No knives! This is walk-about,
socializing food. I’ve altered some of my favorite dishes to accommodate
this idea by removing bones and cutting small bite-size morsels.
You can find more ideas at Sue’s blog at www.sueneal.blogspot.com