Purple Potatoes and Secret Mashed "Add-ins"
Entertaining the Question
March/April, 2005 - Issue #6
Q: Every year around Saint Patrick's Day, I get a hankering for great potatoes. Too bad that the only way I know how to cook them is baked or traditional holiday-style mashed. Can you inspire me?

A: Potatoes are in our soul, just like the aromas of our grandmother's kitchen. They provide comfort, texture, accessibility, nutrition, and a bridge to other cultures. Potatoes are gods, covered in dirt but endowed with magical powers.

Oh, wait - did you mean culinary inspiration? If that's the case, we have the perfect dish for you. The Purple Peruvian, a variety of potato that is both shiny in appearance and earthy in flavor, can be deliciously mashed using sherry vinegar, garlic and onions. Of the "gourmet" potatoes, the Peruvian is perhaps the most familiar in the United States and should be available at your local grocery store.

Purple Potato Mash
Purple Potato Mash
Purple Potato Mash
Makes 4 Cups
2-1/2 pounds Purple Peruvian potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, sliced paper-thin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Spanish sherry vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons mashed roasted garlic
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the potatoes in a roasting pan, without crowding them, and bake for one hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are baking, caramelize the onions. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a small skillet. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until they begin to soften, about two minutes. Add the sugar and sherry vinegar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep caramel color and all the liquid has evaporated, about four to five minutes. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and reserve.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then bell them and transfer to a bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and roasted garlic to a simmer. Mass the potatoes, then add the cream mixture a bit at a time, until completely blended into the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve, and watch them disappear!

Q: I've finally figured out how to pair food and wine, and now I heard that there's a way to match meat and potatoes. Do tell!

A: We do have a list of "add-ins" that can take the mashed potato to a whole new level, and the distinct flavors of these creations do lend themselves well to particular entrees. But before you add anything, you need to know how to make a great mashed-potato base.

We don't share catering secrets often (just ask our clients who try unsuccessfully to get our recipes), but this one is just too good to keep quiet. Due to the volume of potatoes that we serve, we use the white rose or the red rose potato for mashing because they don't have to be peeled. Simply wash and quarter, place potato pieces in a medium pot and pour enough water or broth to cover. Boil for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain, mash with a potato masher or electric beater, add butter, salt and pepper (we like to use white pepper), milk or cream. You can use the recipe for Peruvian Mashed above for proportions.

And now to the "add-ins." Here are a few of our favorites:

Chipotle Mashed: When mashing, add 1-1/2 teaspoons chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and one teaspoon ground cumin. These are great with grilled tri-tip or chicken.

Wasabi Mashed: Add one tablespoon prepared wasabi paste while mashing; this side-dish works fantastically with fish.

Mustard Mashed: Add either Dijon or whole-grain mustard while mashing to taste, starting with one tablespoon. Delicious with pork.

Potatoes have no fat, few calories, and lots of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. Our local farmer's markets carry dozens of varieties; start experimenting with your own creations today!


Cindy and Tamra own RSVP Catering.
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