By Richard Moorey
As the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop I can't help but feel a little lucky that we have gotten as far as we have with unseasonably warm temperatures. Of course it can't last forever and it's almost nice to see a little bit of the white stuff fall. It's that time of year after all and it doesn't really feel like Christmas without at least a little frosting on the landscape. Driving around in the early dark it's nice to see the seasonal glow that accompanies all the decorating that has gone up around the city and it all kind of just starts to put you in the holiday spirit.
With some baking done and out of the way the sweeter part of holiday kitchen work duties are winding down and although there is always a little more dessert baking to be done we can finally start to turn some attention to that big holiday meal. I've had some amazing meals this year without a doubt. I mean it's pretty hard not to with as many amazing eateries as we have here but it's the big Christmas dinner that really is the epitome of culinary enjoyment for the year.
Christmas dinner may not be the fanciest or most expensive meal you've eaten all year but there is for sure just something about it that makes it magical and just that more special than any other meal. Of course the season brings a sense of warmth and giving and being around family are both a huge part of why this one meal is so spellbinding but food has a big role to play too.
The Christmas meal is most definitely is comfort food at its finest. Slow roasted meats, hearty and sweet winter vegetables, rich and buttery potatoes, stuffing and warm delicious breads all help to make up the Tastitude that is Christmas dinner. There isn't any part of the meal that isn't just as delicious as the next but as good as it all is those rich and buttery potatoes are something I just can't resist.
Smooth and creamy with that buttery sheen there is nothing in my book that compares to light and fluffy potatoes under a rich and velvety waterfall of decadent wine laced turkey gravy. It's not a complicated dish by any means but there are a few things that can make or break a delicious batch of mashed potatoes.
Picking the right potato is of course key and Yukon Gold is my choice for mashed. They are high in starch and make for the best final product. Once cooked a ricer is the best way to make the actual mash. It keeps the starches from getting over worked and saves you from developing glue like textures. Once it's time to start adding other ingredients you want to make sure your liquids that get mixed in are and that you season very well. The final step is the garnish. A little crispy fried onion, a pat of butter, some shaved cheese or all of the above put dish up just one step higher.
No matter how you decide to make your Christmas dinner this year if you make potatoes take a little time to clip this one out and you'll be sure to have white and fluffy mashed potatoes that will help make your holiday table begin to look a lot like Christmas.
Christmas Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, warm
1 stick cold butter
Place the potatoes and garlic in a large pot. Cover with cold water and season generously with salt. The water should taste like the ocean. Bring the pot of water to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and garlic well and pass through a food-mill or ricer.
While passing the potatoes, bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Once the cream has come to a boil remove from the heat.
While the potatoes are still hot add 1/3 of the cream and butter and stir vigorously into the potatoes. Repeat this process two more times until all of the cream and butter has incorporated. Taste the potatoes for seasoning and add salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover with foil and keep warm in an oven on low heat.
Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to email@example.com, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.