Mashed Potatoes Two Ways: Simple and Sweet

Classic mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, while sweet potatoes add some color.

There are dozens of recipes for mashed potatoes. And most of the year, I'm adventurous, often throwing in shredded cheddar, bits of bacon and even horseradish. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, the grandeur of a roasted turkey demands a simple side of classic mashed potatoes.

Growing up, I remember my mom quartering russet potatoes and boiling them with their skins on. The tricky part was peeling the hot potatoes before they cooled and pushing them through the ricer. My favorite part was watching those spaghetti-like threads ooze out of the ricer, with not a lump to be found.

Although I appreciate this method, I follow a different recipe now. Peeling and dicing the potatoes uniformly allows them to cook more quickly, and the standing mixer does most of the mashing work.

These Traditional Mashed Potatoes are easy to make, with a light texture and great flavor. Warming the milk before blending helps keep these potatoes fluffy, and the half-stick of butter lends creaminess.

As for the sweet potatoes, this year I traded in the roasted marshmallow topping of my youth for these Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Pecans. Instead of boiling the sweet potatoes, I roasted them for an hour. The skins seal in the moisture so the potatoes basically steam inside their jackets. Cooling the sweet potatoes slightly allows the skins to separate from the potatoes for effortless peeling. The tender insides are easily mashed with a hand-held masher or mixer.

This recipe is delicious, with the pecans adding a nice contrast to the sweet topping. Breaking through the crunchy crust reveals a light and fluffy dish, almost like a souffle. The inside has a true sweet potato flavor, while the topping adds a sweetness that is not overpowering.

No matter how Thanksgiving traditions evolve over the years, potatoes will always have a place on our table. The method of cooking them, well, that's negotiable.

Jan Andras November 22, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Instead of all the cream and butter (I have a son with milk allergies), I add mayonnaise. I makes them smooth and creamy.
Nancy Schreiner November 22, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Hey Jan...try using turkey/chicken broth...not as creamy but tasty!
Bam Bam November 22, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Mash in some Cream Cheese! (for the milk tolerant)
Hoa Nguyen November 22, 2011 at 09:55 PM
There's also the sour cream for those who like some tang. Jan, I like the mayo idea – never thought of that.
Jan Andras November 23, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Thanks Nancy - but I also have a daughter who has been vegetarian since she was ten!
Deborra Zukowski November 23, 2011 at 12:15 AM
For a meal safe for highly milk-allergic, I use Fleischmann's unsalted margarine and with Zensoy (ShopRite) or Full Circle (Big Y) refrigerated soy milk. All are fully milk free. Beware not to get the normal Fleischmann's margarine, though. I even make pumpkin pie and scalloped corn with these substitutes. All tastes pretty good.
Christine E. November 23, 2011 at 01:19 AM
Two slices of American Cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Amazing.
Jaimie Cura (Editor) November 23, 2011 at 01:25 AM
I love the addition of dill to mashed potatoes.
--- November 23, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Lee, Your articles are always good reading! This year I wanted to make what I call a 'white pesto paste', made with pine nuts, raw almond slivers, garlic, basil leaves, white onion, pecorino romano, a smidge of sunflower oil, and green pepper, (Measurements are my secret....), and folding this paste into freshly whipped potatoes. However, my mother-in-law will be bringing mashed potatoes to our Thanksgiving meal, so alas, I shall have to wait until later to try this one. I have used that 'white pesto paste' for other applications, and it is ridiculously awesome. Especially with chicken and fresh pasta.
Hoa Nguyen November 23, 2011 at 04:28 AM
One thing I like to do is to make it slightly runny side and then I place it in the oven along with the dressing or after you take out the turkey. That way, the mashed potatoes are piping hot when you bring it to the table. Also, for cheese lovers, spreading some shredded cheese on top prior to putting it in the oven is nice. Btw, there's a lot going on in that white pesto paste...any reason for the "raw" in the almond silvers?
Lee Elkins November 23, 2011 at 12:16 PM
Thanks! That white pesto sounds amazing. I just bought local pesto yesterday and look forward to using it tonight. In addition to using it in pasta, I like to split a ciabatta loaf, spread it with pesto and broil for a few minutes. Happy cooking!
Carla Kron November 23, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Hoa - I just can't picture you cooking.
Paul Singley November 23, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Yeah but now that I know she can, I'm gonna demand a meal or two at our next team meeting!
Hoa Nguyen November 23, 2011 at 02:56 PM
That's ironic because the kitchen is basically where I live when family is around! I made a chocolate cheesecake Monday night, which I will share a link to you later and if someone has a recipe or dish they want to highlight, please email me. I have one person interested in submitting vegetarian options. Also, if you are looking for something to make with leftovers, try these fresh salad rolls, which I wrote about last year (http://newtown.patch.com/articles/some-like-it-crispy-some-like-it-fresh) and instead of chicken, use turkey. And because of the flavor of turkey, I would recommend using herbs, such as Thai basil if you can get it. Also, if you are a vegetarian and can eat shrimp, you can make the salad rolls without any other protein besides the shrimp. Also, Lee has some ideas of her own about what to do with leftovers. That column will be posted later this week. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!
--- November 23, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Okay, admit it. Who else is already planning their Christmas menu? Happy Thanksgiving 2011 to one and all! It is a joy indeed to seat ourselves at the Lord's Table of Goodness and enjoy His blessings!
Stephanie G November 23, 2011 at 06:23 PM
If you like garlic mashed potatoes, but are afraid that guests might be turned off by the strong garlic taste, try boiling whole garlic cloves with the potatoes. Then you just mash them all up together and the result is a mild, sweet (similar to roasted) garlic flavor. Yum!!
--- November 23, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Lee, I have taken the liberty of linking at my blog's blogroll. Your perspective is needed! :) http://www.fortheloveofthemeal.wordpress.com


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