Pierre Franey gave me this recipe. It was hundreds of years ago and I've long since lost the stain-spattered copy. Battered and yellow, faded with time, that lovely little clipping made at least two moves with me before the Scotch tape wore out and the words began to fade. Luckily, I had the essentials memorized long before it started to disintegrate. Today, I'm going to share it with you.
To be honest, he didn't just give it to me, he gave it to millions of us. The millions of loyal New York Times readers who adored his every word. I'm guessing that was sometime back in the eighties - and I can tell you for certain I've been making it ever since. I've been making it for so long now that my family simply refers to the dish as: "Diva's Mashed Potatoes."
If memory serves, his recipe included basil and chervil ... but there's never any chervil around when you need it, at least not in my kitchen. And basil? Eh, where mashed potatoes are concerned, I'd rather do without. If I happen to have fresh chives, I'll throw them in. If not, no one cries - there's plenty of flavor going on in these potatoes as is. Nutmeg is essential for me, as is white pepper, neither of which appeared in the original.
I'm certain Pierre used cream, I opt for non-fat milk ... except during the holidays, when my inner fat cop relents. It began as his recipe, its become mine. The husband and I call it "champ", but its not champ at all. A proper "champ" has scallions and great knob of butter in the center. Fine additions both, use them if you like. Call it what you like, include whatever veggies you like, just make these potatoes ... and offer a little tip of your cap to Chef Franey. I miss him still, but I'm glad I've adopted his potatoes and given them a good home.
Diva's Mashed Potatoes:
- 4 to 5 large russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1/2 of a medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed, peels removed
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk, non-fat milk, or heavy cream
- salt, white pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- some chopped fresh chives, parsley or chervil, if desired
Combine the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic in a large soup or stock pot and cover with water. Salt the water liberally, 2 or 3 good pinches of Kosher salt should do it, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 12 minutes. Test with a fork, potatoes are done when easily pierced. Drain and return all veggies to the pot. Return the pot to the stove and over medium-high heat, stir potatoes well to dry, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the butter, mash well using a potato masher until desired consistency is achieved. Add milk (or cream) stirring well to combine, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit of salt (if needed) and some ground white pepper and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. Add some fresh chives, parsley or chervil if desired and stir to combine. Reheat gently, if necessary, and serve immediately.
As written this recipe will yield 4 servings.
It should go without saying that you should feel free to adjust the butter/cream/milk ratio according to your tastes. The important thing here is the mix of carrots, potatoes and onions ... its a winner and not to be missed. Plain old mashed potatoes are great ... and these are better, more interesting, more festive. Its hard to make out the glorious flecks of carrot in that pic, but they're there - doing their thing and lending interest to the mix. I hope you'll try it!
Apologies for the duplicate pic ... we finished the potatoes before I had a chance to shoot them solo. Maybe next time ....