A few cloves of garlic added while the potatoes are cooking lend a hint of sweetness; bay leaf and rosemary or thyme lend a satisfying herb-y flavor.
The final result depends on the quality of the potatoes used. Try several different potatoes together: some yellow, some reddish, some bluish. By not mashing them too much, you'll be able to see and taste the range in each mouthful.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 2 pounds (unpeeled) potatoes
- 3 to 6 young, plump cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig rosemary or thyme
- 2/3 cup whole milk (may substitute half-and-half)
- 2 2/3 tablespoons unsalted butter or sour cream (optional)
- 10 stems chives, snipped (optional)
Rinse and brush the potatoes thoroughly; cut each one into 2 or 4 pieces.
Peel the garlic, discarding any green shoots.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the potatoes, garlic, bay leaf and rosemary or thyme sprig. Once the water returns to a boil, cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are just cooked through. (Check doneness with a fork.)
Drain the potatoes in a colander, allowing them to sit for a few minutes before carefully discarding any skins. (They should still be quite hot.) Discard the herbs, then return the potatoes and the garlic to the saucepan.
Bring the milk to a boil in a separate large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, use a wooden spatula or fork to crush the potatoes and garlic. Gradually add the milk, stirring until well incorporated. Make sure the potatoes still have some structure; they should be a little lumpy. Taste, and season lightly with salt.
Just before serving, add the butter or sour cream, if desired, stirring until well incorporated. Sprinkle with chives, if using.
From Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.