Thursday, November 17, 2011

Make Ahead Potatoes

The very first year that I had the privilege of preparing Thanksgiving dinner for my husband's family, I bought a 5 pound bag of potatoes to turn into mashed potatoes.  My husband walked through the kitchen as I was peeling potatoes and he had a very confused look on his face.  We started to go over the guest list and we concluded that there would be 15 or 16 people joining us for Thanksgiving dinner.  Apparently, I wasn't picking up on his subtleties because he went on to tell me how his family was "meat and potatoes" eaters.  He continued to survey the kitchen for more potatoes and when he found only the one bag, he gently suggested that I might need to make more.  I reassured him that mashed potatoes was only one of the starches that I would be serving for Thanksgiving.  I was also going to be preparing a sweet potato souffle and a squash risotto. 

I was so wrong.  My little 5 pound bowl of mashed potatoes didn't even make it halfway around the table.  We had to pass the bowl back so everyone could scoop a little of their potatoes back into the bowl to share with the rest of the guests.  My husband really did know his family well enough to know that mashed potatoes were a huge part of the Thanksgiving meal.  Needless to say the sweet potato souffle and the squash risotto were hardly touched.  Lesson learned - always make plenty of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. 

I like to make my mashed potatoes ahead of time and freeze them so that all I have to do on Thanksgiving day is reheat them.  A couple of weeks ago, I peeled my bag of potatoes, cubed them and boiled them until they were tender.  (I like the yellow potatoes because they give the appearance of buttery goodness without having to add a lot of extra butter and fat.)

I drained the potatoes in a colander and then transferred them to a large bowl.  

For each 5 pound bag of potatoes I add:
4 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2% milk

Sometimes I use a potato masher and sometimes I use a hand mixer to mash my potatoes, depending on the desired texture. In this case, I used a hand mixer to mash the potatoes - leaving a few lumps of course.  I scooped some of the potatoes into a serving dish pyrex dish to serve for dinner.

I covered the remaining potatoes with plastic wrap and then with foil. 

I put the potatoes into the freezer.  I will transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator about 48 hours before Thanksgiving dinner.

On Thanksgiving Day, I remove the plastic wrap from the potatoes and replace the foil before putting them in the oven to warm for about 45 minutes at 350.  Don't worry if the potatoes look slightly grainy and some liquid appears on the surface.  Stirring the potatoes periodically during the warming process helps to restore their creamy consistency.  I also remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking time so that any excess liquid can evaporate.  The previously frozen mashed potatoes are creamy and light and delicious.  If you're short on time or it you just like to have some of the meal prepared in advance, give these mashed potatoes a try - just make sure that you have enough to go around.

Bon Appetit!

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