To my fellow Americans: Last recipe before Thanksgiving, guys! With two days to go I hope you've all purchased your canned pumpkin (you know it will be sold out tomorrow), have calculated how much time the turkey will take to roast, and have coordinated the song-and-dance that is figuring out who is bringing what, what needs reheating, and when and how said dishes will be reheated with just one oven. Good luck!
To my non-Americans: Last recipe before Thanksgiving, guys! The blog will soon be filled once again with dishes that are relevant for everyone, posts that don't speak of mixing vegetables with marshmallows and recipes that are happily devoid of ingredients like corn syrup, maple syrup and pumpkin, plus simple, straightforward Italian recipes, too. Don't worry, there's a light at the end of the Thanksgiving tunnel, I promise.
Having said that -- today's post is for mashed potatoes, one of those rare, uncontroversial foods like pizza, fries, or ice cream that everyone seems to like (have you ever heard anyone say: oh god, I hate mashed potatoes? No, I haven't either). If you're still on the look-out for the perfect mashed potatoes to bring with you this Thursday, or have yet to find your go-to mashed potato recipe (how have you gotten through without one until now?!) -- let me introduce you to the Silver Palate Mashed Potatoes, aka the very best mashed potatoes you will ever eat, potatoes that you will prepare once and instantly grant a permanent place in your Go-To recipe repertoire, guaranteed.
I already mentioned the Silver Palate Cookbook in this post way back about Shortbread Hearts, and also this one about Fettuccine with Brie, Basil, and Tomatoes. Authored by the genius Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins was The New Basics: Silver Palate cookbook was the one my mom turned to and continues to turn to most, her Cooking Bible, an enormous, heavy book that I remember was perpetually perched on our kitchen counter, flipped through, referenced, bookmarked. The Silver Palate cookbook is an encyclopedia of reliable, consistently delicious recipes, and the source of my mom's Thanksgiving stuffing, her Strawberry Chocolate Tart, her white chocolate and apricot cantucci, the Thanksgiving turkey itself, and of course these potatoes. The Silver Palate mashed potatoes have been present at every holiday my family has ever hosted, our very favorite side, a stand-by, a go-to, a winner. They are perfectly smooth and extremely rich -- we're dealing with three kinds of dairy here, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter -- thus ticking the boxes of the two most important qualities of any good mashed potato. They are tangy and buttery all at once, with a hint of nutmeg that gives the potatoes a complexity and a little extra dimension of flavor, perfect topped with a spoonful (or two, or three) of gravy. Best of all? These can be made and served right away, or they can be made ahead of time and then baked to reheat -- shocking, given that mashed potatoes are notorious for not taking kindly to reheating or any advance prep.
A few other guaranteed delicious Thanksgiving recipes, if you're still scrambling to figure out what you will be making: All-American Apple Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake with Praline Sauce, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, Pecan Pie Bars, Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots and Pancetta, Cornbread Muffins with Maple Butter, Savory Squash Pancakes with Brown Butter and Sage, Sausage, Apple, and Apricot Stuffing, Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette, Herb Roasted Purple and Orange Carrots, and Lasagne alla Bolognese if you're like my family and always have lasagne at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Only a few notes this time: Can't find sour cream where you are?You can also substitute full-fat plain Greek yogurt. I usually use any leftovers to make little mashed potato cakes -- form the cold mashed potatoes into little pancakes, dredge lightly in flour, and fry in a little oil and butter in a pan until the outsides are brown and crispy. Note that in the photos below, I photographed the halved recipe as my sister and I, hearty eaters though we may be, could not possibly have eaten mashed potatoes for 8 people by ourselves (or could we have?!)
And lastly, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I won't be celebrating until Saturday -- no Thanksgiving holidays here in Rome -- but will be sure to post some photos of our own (20+ person) dinner, where I'll be making the pecan pie, cornbread muffins with maple butter, and a sweet potato casserole. Up ahead: my next post for Cucina Conversations plus lots of Christmas recipes, as we hop from one holiday to the next.
(336 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
Peel and dice the potatoes. Place them in a large pot and add just enough water to cover. Put the pot on the stove over high heat and let the water come to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the water simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes.
Place the potatoes in a large bowl and give them a few mashes with a potato masher to get things going. Cut the butter and cream cheese into small pieces and add to the potatoes. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sour cream. Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. (As you can see from the photos I didn't read the recipe correctly -- again -- and just beat everything together at once. They still tasted great!)
Serve immediately or reheat in a buttered casserole dish (or pie plate like I did, if you too went to reach for your casserole dish and promptly dropped it, shattering it to pieces!) at 300° F for 20 minutes, if you want to prepare them in advance. Serves 8.