Holiday cooking is starting early in the Spoon house. I originally set out to make a good, dairy-less mashed potato recipe. A basic recipe. One a stereotypical grandma would consider to be sensible without too many bells and whistles. Traditional creamy fluffy goodness. As I set out on my journey toward traditional mashed potato glory, I thought, I’m going to make a fluffy, great example of quintessential mashed potatoes. Vegan ones that taste like the original. I’ll just send them through my food mill, and add the perfect amount of non-dairy milk and vegan butter, salt and pepper, and then we will be in mashed potato heaven.
Then, I heard a familiar voice prodding in my head:
“Well, you could do it that way…”
“Look,” I said, “I set out to make traditional mashed potatoes that even grandma will approve of.”
“I think that is a very good idea”, the voice said. “Very sensible and traditional. People will like that; but you could…”
“I see what you’re doing Margaret. This time, I’m not going to get carried away.”
“I see your point. You want to make fluffy creamy mashed potatoes. I just think…”
“Making potatoes. Right now.” So I did. I made those fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes, and they were pretty good, but I started to hear that familiar voice again and decided it would be best to make her feel heard so she would be satisfied and move onto the next idea.
“Okay Ms. Margie. Fire away…”
“What about that garlic confit, lots of it… all those little cloves, simmered and poached until they are sweet and perfectly mashable…”
“Okay, you have my interest Midge, but people are going to think I’m insane calling for HEADS of garlic instead of cloves…but I do love that garlic confit…I could eat it by the spoonful…okay, what other ideas have you got in that Mary Poppins bag of a brain?”
“Insane by reason of garlic? That’s one sentence I would gladly submit to. Now, let’s talk herbs. Go on out to the herb garden and grab me some rosemary, sage and thyme.”
“Hmm, I’m not sure I want all those little rosemary bits in my potatoes.”
“Trust me on this one, amiga.”
“Okay, okay, I trust you Margs. Now what are we going to do to these herbs if we’re not going to chop them up and swirl them into the potatoes?”
“Alright. Picture this…We’re going to infuse the almond milk and broth with the sprigs of herbs; steep them and muddle them to release their flavor, so that the potatoes are scented.”
“Whoa. Okay, okay, that sounds amazing. What next, what next, what could we possibly do to these potatoes besides this?!?”
“The piece de resistance, the magical step to elevate this homely little tuber into magestic, crowned glory…”
“Tell me, tell me, for the love of God, Miss Marguerite!”
“We shall spread these potatoes beautifully in a baking dish, lightly brush the top with olive oil and broil them until they are swirled and spotted with a golden crust!”
“Ho. Ly. Cow.”
“Oh, and sprinkle them with thyme leaves. Now, what do we say? Hmmm?”
“Okay okay Maisie…you were right, I shall never doubt you again.”
“Why thank you.”
Now dear Spoonies, the choice is up to you. This Thanksgiving, you could totally whip up a lovely batch of traditional mashed potatoes…Or…
- 5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1½ inch chunks--see note about peeling*
- 2-3 medium to large heads garlic, about 1 cup peeled cloves see notes below*
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, or enough to cover garlic cloves in a small saucepan
- 1½ cups no-chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 cups unsweetened plant based milk, such as almond milk
- 3 4-inch sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs sage leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme, plus additional picked leaves to garnish
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin), or other neutral oil with a higher smoke point.
- Cover the potatoes in cold water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Salt the water generously and boil for 8-10 minutes, or until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork but aren't too starchy.
- Pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer, or mash with a potato masher. Put them back into the saucepan and set aside.
- Place peeled garlic cloves in a small saucepan and cover with the extra-virgin olive oil. Heat on medium-low heat to the point where small bubbles are rising from the cloves. Watch them often and turn the heat up or down to maintain a very gentle "simmer". If they heat up too much and start to bubble vigorously and fry, remove from heat and put back over a low burner until they gently bubble. Cook for about 45 minutes, or until they are very tender, mashable, and their flavor is sweetened without the sharp edge. Remove the garlic from the oil, reserving the oil. Mash the garlic cloves with a fork in a small bowl and set aside.
- Put the herb sprigs into a medium saucepan with the broth and milk. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and bash the herbs with a muddler or wooden spoon to release more of their flavor. Allow the herbs to steep in the hot liquid for 20-30 minutes. Remove the herb sprigs when ready to use the liquid.
- Preheat oven to low broil.
- Reheat the mashed potatoes over low heat in the saucepan. Fold and stir the mashed garlic and ¼ cup of the garlic oil into the mashed potatoes. Reheat the broth-milk mixture to just below a simmer, and stir it into the mashed potatoes. Season with salt to taste and transfer to a baking dish (I used a deep Swirl the top with a spoon to make it textured and brush the top with olive oil (not extra-virgin).
- Broil the potatoes a couple inches below the heating element for about 8-10 minutes, supervising very closely and rotating the dish every couple minutes after the first four minutes cooking time to achieve an even deep golden color.
*Don't fear the seemingly insane amount of garlic. When poached in oil, it becomes sweet and neutral, almost like roasted garlic but more tender. If you're a garlic lover and really want the flavor to come through, use 3 heads. If you want the garlic flavor to be more subtle in the background, use 2 heads, or in any amount to taste.