Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Champ ... Or, Diva's Mashed Potatoes

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 ....

Bon appetite!


Charmian @Christie's Corner said...

Funny how someone else's recipes become our own over time. I'm glad you let your palate dictate the spicing and didn't let lack of chervil stop you. So many people are slaves to a recipe and end up missing out on the joy of experimentation.

Keep cooking!

Heavenly Housewife said...

My hubby would love this.

Wilma said...

These mashed potatoes are the sh*t! This I know only because of the way Mom and Dad swoon over them.
People, if you haven't got the ingredients, get yourself to the grocer and make this recipe.You'll never look at mashed potatoes the same way again.

pixelgal said...

I'm here to tell you these are 'the bomb'! And how well they go with the roast beef. With the disguised carrots they are even more healthful. I want some now!

stephchows said...

your version is better for sure :)

Katherine Aucoin said...

You have me so anxious to try this! I've never seen or heard about mixing carrots and onions in with the taters. I totally hear you about the nutmeg and white how you think girlfriend!

Sook said...

Oh I love mashed potatoes! Your recipe sounds amazing!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Thanks, all! These potatoes really are something special and a nice break from the ordinary. You can get creative with the mix too ... parsnips would be good, in addition to the carrots. I've been meaning to try that myself some time! :)

Wilma - I thought your mom would like this one! ;)

Christina said...

Oh yummy! These are very sentimental to me! My dad always cooked carrots along side his mashed potatoes and would mush them in. He said his grandmother would always fix his that way. I also love mixing corn in w/ them!

Megan said...

Those potatoes look fabulous! I can definitely make out some flecks of carrot in there. I just tried a pretty good Cook's Illustrated recipe for smashed red potatoes tonight. I'm glad I got my mashed potato fix before looking at these, or I might be running back to the stove!

Maven said...

I LOVE you for this!

I'm always looking for ways to change up our mashed potatoes.

Erika said...

Carrots in the mashed potatoes - now that's something I never would have thought of. Good old Pierre! Thanks for sharing these with us! Sounds really delicious. I think I'm making it tomorrow night!

Tangled Noodle said...

Oh, the carrots sound so great in this! And that's saying a lot because I am not a carrot fan (unless it's in a cake and covered with an inch of sweetened cream cheese frosting). I keep forgetting to take the extra step of drying the potatoes before mashing, but I promise to do so next time. This champ's a champ indeed!

Daily Spud said...

Oops, how did I miss such fine sounding spuds 'til now?!