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.
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 1/2 pounds) of cooked potatoes, use 1/2 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@example.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow her on twitter at @roadeats.
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Artichoke, Leek and Russet Potato Casserole
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
2 leeks (white and light-green parts only), sliced into thin half-moons and rinsed well
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 packages (9 ounces each) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, excess water squeezed out, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled or not, very thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add leeks and celery; cook until softened, 8 minutes. Add artichokes, broth and cream cheese, and stir to combine. Remove skillet from heat, add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Brush a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with oil. Arrange half the potato slices in a single layer, overlapping slightly; season with salt and pepper. Top with artichoke mixture; smooth top. Layer with remaining potatoes, brush with 2 teaspoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until sauce is bubbling and potatoes are golden and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Source: Everyday Food
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Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 stick of butter
1 to 2 pints heavy cream
Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Place butter and cream in a small pot, bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
Drain potatoes, return to hot pan and let excess water evaporate. While the potatoes are still hot but dry, puree with a food mill, ricer or hand potato masher. Whisk in butter and cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 4 to 6.
Source: Apron's Cooking School, Publix
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Mashed Red Potatoes With Horseradish and Sage Brown Butter
2 pounds red potatoes, halved with skin on
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 sage leaves
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a large pot, add red potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add sage leaves and cook over medium-high heat until butter starts to turn brown. Remove from heat immediately and remove sage leaves from butter.
Pour browned sage butter and mash potatoes with a masher or large spoon. Add sour cream, horseradish, heavy cream, pepper and remaining salt to potatoes. Mix to combine. Add cooking water or more heavy cream if potatoes seem dry.
Serve with a garnish of fresh sage leaves.
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Sweet Potato Gratin With Chili-Spiced Pecans
5 pounds sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups pecans (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups mini marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Roast the sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt the butter. Add the pecans, sugar and chipotle powder and cook over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar starts to caramelize and the pecans are well-coated, 8 minutes. Spread the pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and let cool.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor; discard the skins. Add the honey, cinnamon, allspice and cloves to the processor and puree. Add the cream and puree. Season with salt and pepper.
Scrape the potatoes into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish; scatter the marshmallows on top. Bake in the top third of the oven for 25 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden. Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.
Make ahead: The sweet potato puree can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and top with the marshmallows before baking. The spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Source: Food & Wine
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Low-Fat Garlic Smashers
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup 2 percent milk, warmed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Place potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and add garlic cloves.
Boil until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
Drain and return to pot and place over low heat for 15 seconds to remove excess moisture. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
Mash and serve immediately.
Source: Mountain King Potatoes
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Roasted Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 6 cups)
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Arrange potato mixture on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, turning after 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with chives.
Source: Cooking Light
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Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Candied Ginger
2 to 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
Cook or bake the sweet potatoes until tender. Drain well if you boiled them. Peel, holding them in a towel to protect your hands, and drop them back into the pot or into a mixing bowl.
Smash the flesh with a heavy wire whisk, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter, rum, orange zest and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm, sprinkled with the candied ginger.
Serves 4 to 6.
Source: One Potato, Two Potato by Roy Finamore (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)
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Peppered Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
2 (24-ounce) bags microwavable peeled and cut potatoes (recommended: Ore-Ida Steam n' Mash)
2 cups light cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
8 ounces peppered goat cheese, at room temperature
Microwave the potatoes according to package directions.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a medium pot over medium heat, warm the cream with the butter, thyme, salt and pepper. Don't let it boil.
Put the potatoes into a large pot and mash with a potato masher. Strain half the cream mixture into the warm potatoes and add the cheese in chunks. Mix together, adding more cream to get a nice creamy consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, if necessary. Keep covered and serve warm.
Source: Food Network
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Potato, Fennel and Parsnip Gratin
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 medium parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 pinch each salt and pepper
2 cups cream
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook potatoes and parsnips for 4 to 5 minutes in boiling water, then drain well.
Layer potatoes, parsnips and fennel in alternating layers, seasoning as you go.
Mix cream, garlic, thyme and Parmesan together in a bowl and pour over vegetables.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
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Chili-Glazed Sweet Potatoes
4 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
2/3 cup red jalapeno jelly
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
About 3 tablespoons lime juice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. Divide chunks equally between 2 lightly oiled baking pans (each 10 by 15 inches); cover tightly with foil.
Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until sweet potatoes are tender when pierced, about 25 minutes longer; switch pan positions halfway through baking.
Meanwhile, put jelly in a 2-cup glass measure. Heat in a microwave oven at full power (100 percent) until softened, about 20 seconds. Add vinegar and stir until well blended.
Combine sweet potatoes in 1 pan. Pour jelly mixture evenly over potatoes and turn chunks with a spatula to coat evenly. Continue baking until jelly mixture thickens and sticks to sweet potatoes, about 10 minutes, turning chunks often to prevent scorching.
Pour into a wide bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and add about 3 tablespoons lime juice and salt to taste.
Serves 8 to 10.
Source: Sunset magazine