~ Creamy Smashed Cheddar 'n Mint Gold Potatoes ~
Lots of people add cheddar cheese to mashed or smashed potatoes. It's a well-documented fact that "everthing tastes betta with chedda". That said, if you've never tasted cheddar potatoes with dried mint flakes added to them, I implore to take a page out of my playbook. Don't roll your eyes. I've served these potatoes to a couple of schooled restaurant chefs who have changed their menus to serve "Mel's potatoes" with lamb or lamb chops. You gotta trust me on this one!
I didn't invent the pairing of potatoes, cheese and mint. My Eastern European ancestors did that for me. Where my people came from, parts of Russia and the now surrounding countries (the maps have changed over the years), the climate was cold and the growing season was short. Along with chives, dill and parsley, mint was a hearty herb that grew like a weed. It was the first to come to life in the Spring, but, it was the last to die in the Winter. They minced it and added it fresh to Summer salads and chilled soups, and, they dried it to add to add to tea and hearty root-vegetable side-dishes during the Winter. My grandmother used fresh mint like a garnish and dried mint as an ingredient. That was that. Her rules are the rules. As for the cheese, the use of white cheddar came along after they immigrated to the USA. Back in the "old country", homemade farmer's cheese (a very dry, tangy, sliceable cheese made by pressing the liquid from cottage cheese) was their #1 cheese of choice. That said, my grandmother had no problem transitioning her own recipes to using white cheddar!
What's wrong with this picture? Eggs? You betcha!!!
Once again, my grandmother takes center stage with this recipe. Your not going to find this one hanging out on the information superhighway. Yes folks, close to the end of the recipe, Baba always added two lightly-beaten eggs. If you love the way egg enriches and enrobes your pasta in Italian carbonara, you are gonna adore what it does to these potatoes. I love my life!
4 1/2 pounds peeled, gold potatoes, cut into 1" chunks (about 1, 5-pound bag)
1 tablespoon sea salt, for seasoning water
6 ounces salted butter, at room temperature, very soft (1 1/2 sticks)
8 ounces grated white sharp cheddar, or grated white horseradish-cheddar if you dare, at room temperature
1/4 cup dried mint flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper (my grandmother always used white pepper in her potatoes)
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly-beaten
1 1/2-1 3/4 cups heavy or whipping cream, warmed in the microwave
~ Step 2. Bring to a simmer over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are fork-tender and every-so-slightly undercooked, or, "to the tooth", about 9-11 minutes. These are going to be smashed, not mashed potatoes, which is why it is important to leave a bit of texture.
~ Step 3. Drain potatoes into a colander. Immediately return the steaming hot potatoes to the still hot stockpot and place it back on the still warm stovetop. Add the butter, cheese, and mint flakes. Cover and let sit until butter and cheese are melted, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. This is why it is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature.
~ Step 5. Using your favorite hand-held vegetable masher (not an electric mixer), begin adding the warm cream, in small amounts, while stirring and smashing the entire time, until desired consistency is reached.
These golden, creamy & chunky beauties look perfect to me:
Special Equipment List: vegetable peeler; cutting board; chef's knife; 8-quart stockpot; colander; fork; large spoon; hand-held vegetable masher
Cook's note: I use a similar version of these potatoes as the filling for ~Pirogi: Like My Russian Baba Used to Make w/my method for "Perfect Food Processor Pirogi Dough"! ~. You can find the recipe in Categories 4, 12 or 22!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)