Thursday, June 21, 2018
Features and More

Potatoes star in these homey Thanksgiving recipes

The Thanksgiving feast requires certain elements to make everyone happy: turkey, of course, and stuffing — dressing if you're from the South — plus cranberry, something green to assuage our gluttonous guilt, possibly a colorful Jell-O salad and then pumpkin pie. • Oh, and potatoes, mostly likely two kinds — mashed and a sweet potato melange oozing with butter, brown sugar and bubbly marshmallows. It's a meal of tradition for sure, but for some of us, tradition means changing things up.

This year, whether you're making the entire meal yourself or bringing a dish to a potluck gathering, consider something new. We've found 10 recipes worthy of the holiday meal, some simple and others more challenging. It's not a bad idea to give a new recipe a trial run before Thursday.

Traditionally, spicy foods don't make an appearance at Thanksgiving, but with the increased popularity of the flavor-injected, deep-fried turkey, we think that Chili-Glazed Sweet Potatoes would be a worthy accompaniment. The heat comes from jalapeno jelly. Sweet Potato Gratin With Chili-Spiced Pecans, powered by chipotle powder, is another that would belly up to a deep-fried turkey quite well.

For potlucks, we like Artichoke, Leek and Russet Potato Casserole or Potato, Fennel and Parsnip Gratin. These casserolelike potato dishes travel well and can easily be reheated. Mashed potatoes, of course, are always well-received and expected. There are many ways to dress them up if butter and milk aren't enough for you. Goat cheese, garlic, horseradish and cheese are just a few ways to gild the lily. If you're feeling especially frisky, stir in a 4-ounce container of mascarpone, the thick Italian cream cheese. It's a secret ingredient that makes the mashed potatoes especially silky and rich.

Perfectly mashed

Since we're on the subject of mashed potatoes, it's a good time to admit that while making them is not difficult, there are some tricks to ensure they don't become a pot of glue. That unfortunate outcome can result from selecting high-starch potatoes and then beating or processing them too long, which releases even more starch.

So here's your first tip: Do not prepare mashed potatoes in a food processor. The sharp blades rip the structure of the potato and unleash starch. Because the blades move so quickly, potatoes turn to paste before you know it. (Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are fine in a processor.) Also, use a hand-beater sparingly and only after you've mashed the potatoes or put them through a ricer or food mill.

In general, a medium-starch Yukon Gold is probably the best for mashed potatoes but all-purpose russets work well as long as you don't beat them too much. Both make for light, fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes. Yukons even taste buttery. Large red potatoes also make delicious mashed potatoes, but tend to be smaller so you'll be peeling longer.

Peel and cut potatoes in uniform sizes before boiling. If the sizes are uneven, they will cook at different rates and you will be fishing some pieces out of the water before others.

Start potatoes in cold water so that they cook evenly. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Drain immediately when done. If potatoes sit in water, they will be waterlogged and turn to paste when mashed.

Overcooked potatoes won't absorb as much liquid. Return drained, cooked potatoes to the hot pot and momentarily let the steam escape. Dry potatoes will better absorb liquid.

Suggested liquid amounts: For 4 cups (2 ½ pounds) of cooked potatoes, use ½ cup of milk. For 8 cups (or 5 pounds), use 1 cup. Beat well to incorporate. (Five pounds of potatoes feeds 12 to 16 people.) For the butter, about 4 tablespoons for 4 cups cooked potatoes and 8 tablespoons for 8 cups.

Use coarse kosher salt to season. It is easy to overdo it with fine table salt. Salt as you cook so that the seasoning works its way into the food, otherwise you may oversalt at the end.

Heat butter and milk before adding to cooked potatoes. Add warmed milk (or half-and-half or heavy cream) first. Mixing in the butter first coats potatoes and prevents them from absorbing milk.

Make the mashed potatoes and store in the refrigerator. They'll reheat wonderfully right before the meal. If they appear dry, add more warmed milk.

Leftover heated milk and butter for mashed potatoes can be frozen for future use. Let it cool completely first.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8586. Follow her on twitter at @roadeats.

Comments
Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Bar review: St. Pete’s Garage is a dive with Pride

Last year’s St. Pete Pride went smoothly, despite some behind-the-scenes drama involving the decision to relocate the parade to the downtown waterfront, rather than the Grand Central District, where it had traditionally been held. After all, the Gran...
Published: 06/21/18
Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

Local craft beer of the week: Beach Slap Piña Colada Wheat Ale from Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company

"Hooray, it’s summer!" exclaimed no Floridians. But if it’s summer proper and not just the usual year-round weather, you might as well embrace the heat and humidity with a trip to the beach, accompanied by some suitably refreshing beers. While you’r...
Published: 06/21/18
Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

Wine dinners, beer projects and more will wet your whistle this summer

FILIPINO FOOD: WELCOME CHISMISHave you been to the Heights Public Market at the 73,000-square-foot Armature Works yet? It’s the buzzy food market in Tampa Heights with more than a dozen vendors offering up everything from rolled ice cream to Cuban sa...
Published: 06/20/18
On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

SENDUP: MUSICAL OF MUSICALSFive composers, a talented cast, choreography by Cheryl Lee and music directed by Michael Raabe — that’s Freefall Theatre’s recipe for a laugh-filled, season-ending summer musical, appropriately titled The Musical of Musica...
Published: 06/20/18
Artists’ talks and Sharon Norwood’s definition of beauty

Artists’ talks and Sharon Norwood’s definition of beauty

MARK MAKING: DEFINING BEAUTYBlack, squiggly lines are at the center of multidisciplinary artist Sharon Norwood’s works, an exhibition of which titled "Defining Beauty" opens at Tempus Projects on Saturday. Norwood’s use of the line in a variety of me...
Published: 06/20/18
Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

It started with jugs of olive oil and cans of tuna, lots of it, which my husband hauled in one day and plunked on the counter. "That’s my lunch!"That was about three months ago, and every day since there has been a new entity in our house to consider...
Published: 06/20/18
Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

More than 50,000 people are estimated to attend Pride weekend in St. Petersburg, which runs Friday to Sunday. (June is LGBTQ Pride Month.) Whether you plan to march in the parade or host your own smaller gathering, we’ve selected five rainbow-themed ...
Published: 06/20/18
My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

This week I wrote about something with which I have become very familiar: the ketogenic diet. If you’re like, "Huh?" you are where I was three months ago, before my husband, Phil, embarked on the weight-loss regimen. The keto diet is a high-fat, low-...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

TAMPA — The virtues of Dancing at Lughnasa, with which Jobsite Theater closes its season, are many. This drama by the celebrated Brian Friel opened in 1990 to much acclaim. It captures a family’s joys and sadnesses, and the quickness with which one s...
Published: 06/19/18
A perfect pick for dessert

A perfect pick for dessert

America’s Test KitchenIt might seem impossible to improve on a perfect peach, but we decided to try. We wanted a simple, warm dessert that amplified the peaches’ flavor. To achieve tender, flavorful peaches with a lightly sweet glaze, we began by tos...
Published: 06/19/18