‘Evening draws nigh’ is a graceful, if antiquated, way of expressing the restful attitude of that time of day when a body’s work is done and dinner is cooking. The cook stands alone before the kitchen window, mashing potatoes. The view from this window begins just below the house in a mesquite-ringed clearing where four horses are nosing at their piles of alfalfa and contentedly dining in their persistent, unhurried fashion. They have attention to spare for nothing besides. Behind them the land rolls and falls in hills prickly with desert scrub, until it reaches a horizon of harsh, bare mountain range that is just beginning to glow red as the sun sets. A coyote howls and sets off a frenzied yelping among the unseen dogs belonging to distant neighbors. Someone comes into the kitchen and offers to take over what looks to them to be a chore–the mashing of the potatoes. The cook shakes her head and says, “That’s ok.”
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Timing Note: Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes may be made one day in advance. In this case, add only 1/2 cup of cream when making the potatoes, then cool them completely before covering and refrigerating them. Reheat the potatoes (a) in the upper part of a double boiler or (b) in the upper part of a homemade bain-marie made by placing a bowl in the rim of a pot partially filled with water or (c) by placing the potatoes in a heavy pot and placing the pot in a steep-sided pan or in a larger pot of simmering water. Once the potatoes are heated, add some more cream (probably about 1/4 cup) to bring them to the consistency you like. (A photo of a homemade bain-marie is here in this previous diplomatickitchen post.)
- 3 heads of Garlic, unpeeled
- Olive Oil for roasting the garlic
- freshly ground Black Pepper and Salt
- 2 and 1/2 pounds (or a little more than a kilo) of good mashing potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes (of about 1 inch or 2.5 cm) and placed in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or casserole of salted water to cover: Russets and Yukons are well-suited varieties of potato to use if they are available where you are living–but any type that you have found works well for making mashed potatoes will work well in this recipe.
- up to 3/4 cup of Heavy Cream: this is an approximation and will depend on the potatoes used and whether or not the potatoes are made a day ahead (See step 6 in the recipe below.) 3/4 cup total, in any case, is a good general approximation of the amount required.
- 4 Tablespoons of Chives or Green Onions, chopped
- up to 1 teaspoon of Salt: See step 8 in the recipe below.
- 4 Tablespoons of Butter (about 60 grams)
- 1 teaspoon of ground White Pepper
- a large, heavy-bottomed Pot or Casserole of salted water for boiling the potatoes
- a Rimmed Baking Tray lined with a large piece of Aluminum Foil for roasting the garlic
- a Wooden Spoon to mash up the roasted garlic cloves
- a Colander for draining the boiled potato cubes
- a Food Mill or a Potato Masher: A Food Processor is not recommended since it will give the potatoes a gluey texture.
2. On a baking tray, spread a piece of aluminum foil, large enough to loosely enfold the garlic bulbs in a packet during roasting.
3. Place the bulbs upright in the center of the foil. Drizzle the bulbs liberally with olive oil and grind black pepper and salt over them. Replace the reserved cut caps on the garlic bulbs. Bring the edges of the foil up to enclose the bulbs and press the edges of the foil together to seal the bulbs inside. (The foil package should enclose the garlic inside loosely and not press up tightly against the garlic.)
4. Roast the garlic for about 30 – 45 minutes or until the bulbs are tender. Cool them and gently squeeze the soft cloves out of their peels. Reserve 8 whole cloves to garnish the potatoes on the plates and roughly mash the rest of them–with the back of a wooden spoon, for example.
5. Bring the pot of potatoes to a boil over medium heat and cook them until they are tender. (Timing will depend upon the kind of potato that is used and the size of the pieces in which they are cut.) When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the heat and drain them in a colander.
6. If using a potato masher, return the potatoes to the pot. Add the mashed garlic, chives or green onions, butter and white pepper and mash everything together with the masher. Mash to a textured consistency or to a smooth consistency–both are good. Alternatively, place a food mill over the pot and run the potatoes through the mill down into the pot–then add the garlic, green onions, butter and white pepper and mix them into the potatoes. If you are serving the potatoes right away, whip 3/4 cup of cream into the potatoes at this point. If you are making the potatoes a day in advance, add only 1/2 cup of cream and wait until the next day to add more (probably about 1/4 cup) when reheating them for serving.
7. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and whip the potato mixture again. Taste the mashed potatoes and add more salt (perhaps up to 1/2 teaspoon more) if you think more will improve the flavour. (For potatoes made a day in advance, wait until the next day, after reheating the potatoes and adding additional cream, before tasting and deciding whether to add any more salt.)
9. Arrange the potatoes on plates and place a roasted garlic clove on each serving.
A Note: Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes are served with the Main Course of the Dinner Menu: Dinner ‘Louisianne’.
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012