Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homemade Cranberry Sauce and Perfect Mashed Potatoes

It's that time of year again when most everyone in America is called upon to cook. On this occasion I have the opportunity to use this blog for the greater good. Hopefully I can. This post features tips on two dishes that are ubiquitous on Thanksgiving tables. I'll give recipes for each, but think of them as sort of rough guides. For example, my cranberry sauce is on the sweet side, so feel free to use less sugar. Also, the amount of milk to add to your mashed potatoes is highly subjective; use whatever amount you need to get yours to the consistency you like.
As for creating really fluffy mashed potatoes: russet, which are highly starchy are in my opinion the best potato for mashing. They're also large, so less potatoes to scrub equals less work. Cut your potatoes up into very large pieces to boil them. Salt the water. Boil until a little more tender than you would prefer to have them if you were just eating boiled potatoes or making potato salad. Don't skimp on the butter. You'll need slightly less than 1 Tablespoon of butter per medium to large sized russet. When the potatoes are cooked through drain the water, but don't shake the excess water from the bottom. It will help you create fluffier mashed potatoes. When you mash leave the in the boiling pot and push your masher straight down along the outside of the pot circling in toward the center, to loosely break up the potato pieces. Then mash butter in in the same pattern and motion. Then fold milk in as gently as possible to avoid overworking your potatoes. I like to leave the skin on because I like the taste and the mouth feel. Also, I read an article that said the skin is where all the vitamins are.

Next blog post is going to feature another side dish, this one easy yet impressive.

Cranberry Sauce

Serves 4 - 6

1 1/2 cups (by volume) cleaned, picked through cranberries
juice of 1/2 large orange or whole small orange
zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
(optional) 2 - 3 Tablespoons orange marmalade*
(optional garnish) 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1. In a saucepan over medium heat combine cranberries, water and sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
2. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 12 - 15 minutes, or until the cranberries soften enough to split open.
3. Add orange zest, orange juice and (optional) marmalade and cook for 2 - 3 minutes more.
4. Remove from heat and serve topped with chopped toasted walnuts

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4 - 6

4 medium to large russet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped roughly (max 6 pieces per potato)
3 1/2 - 4 Tablespoons of butter, separated (cut into Tablespoon pieces)
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk, depending on preference

1. Drop potatoes into boiling, salted water and cook for about 30 minutes, or until slightly more than fork tender.
2. Mash potatoes using the method described above.
3. Add butter and continue to mash until incorporated.
4. Slowly fold in milk parts at a time until desired consistency is reached.
5. Adjust for salt and add desired amount of pepper. Fold until just incorporated.

*This will create a thicker sauce, so if that is your preference I highly recommend it

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

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