Oh we vegetable lovers really – no, really really – love Thanksgiving! This year, I decided to focus on the potato. How sad it is that the humble potato is so maligned these days, almost public enemy Number 2. (Number 1, of course, is bread.) So I was happy when the Whole30 people reversed course last summer, returning the potato to good graces as a healthy whole food. (Yeah! Here's the new information, French fries and potato chips are, duh, excluded. And just to be clear, since Whole30 excludes all dairy, this particular recipe is not Whole30 compliant.) Still, I'm of the mind that if you're going to eat higher-carb foods, bread, potatoes and the like, they'd dang well better be worth eating. Usually that means piles of butter and cream – usually, but not always, and not here.
Enter skins-on new potatoes cooked in the slow cooker with garlic, tossed with a little cream cheese – easy enough for a weekday supper, good enough for a special meal like Thanksgiving, especially for a kitchen short on oven space and stovetop burners. Or just because it's ever-ever so easy.
RECIPE for SLOW COOKER GARLIC SMASHED POTATOES
Time to table: 3-1/2 hours to 5-1/2 hours
Makes 4-1/2 cups
3 pounds (1.3k) small red potatoes, some times called "new" potatoes
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Philadelphia "chive and onion" 1/3 less fat (Neufchatel ) cream cheese, room temperature
4 - 8 tablespoons milk
Pepper to taste
Fresh chive, for garnish, optional
COOK POTATOES Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, rinse under running water. With a spatula, combine the potatoes, garlic, oil, salt and water in a bowl, really turning the potatoes to make sure all the surface area is covered. Transfer the potatoes and all the liquid to a slow cooker (save the bowl, you'll use it again). Set on HIGH and cook for 3-1/2 hours to 4-1/2 hours until the potatoes are fully cooked.
HEAT In a small saucepan, melt the cream cheese and 4 tablespoons milk. You'll want this mixture will hot 'n' ready as soon as the potatoes are mashed. (If you're making the potatoes ahead of time, this step can be skipped. But if you're going to serve them right away, you don't want the potatoes to get cold!)
MASH THE POTATOES Transfer the potatoes and liquid back into that bowl (see? I told you to save that bowl!) and with a fork or a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes; don't mash them all the way, you want some chunks and roughness.
STIR IN CREAM CHEESE Stir in the cream cheese mixture, then any additional milk that's needed to reach the consistency you prefer. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper.
SERVE RIGHT AWAY Top with fresh chive, serve and savor!
HOLD IN SLOW COOKER Otherwise, return to the slow cooker, reduce the heat to LOW and bring back to temperature, this takes about two hours. Top with fresh chive, serve and savor.
MAKE-AHEAD OPTIONS Cook and mix the potatoes a day or two before, then reheat in the microwave, oven or even a slow cooker. Since they're starting off cold, allow extra time to heat through.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
RINSE THE POTATOES? WHY? Red potatoes have less starch than Yukon Gold or russet potatoes but still are slightly starchy. By washing off some/most of the starch before cooking, the potatoes are less likely to become gummy. It's one of the three tricks learned with Three Secrets to Rich & Creamy Mashed Potatoes.
SLOW COOKERS VARY This is the #1 reason why I'm generally no fan of slow cookers, it's hard to reproduce results. That's why I generally choose "forgiving" recipes and if ever there's a forgiving recipe, this is it. I cooked a smaller batch (just 22 ounces of potatoes) in my favorite small slow cooker, this red stoneware crockpot. The potatoes cooked perfectly in 3-1/2 hours and "held" on low for two hours (after two hours, the bottom began to scorch).
SAVING DISHES Yes, you could both stir the potatoes with the garlic-oil mixture up front and mash the potatoes right in the slow cooker.
CREAM CHEESE OPTIONS The small tub of "doctored" cream cheese was easy to find and the ingredient list not too scary so I opted into the convenience. But it would be easy to create your own with pantry ingredients, low-fat cream cheese (even Greek yogurt would work though would be slightly less creamy, you'd use less milk) plus onion powder, garlic powder and fresh chives. Or – how about this? – bring home a few bagels for Thanksgiving morning, add a tub of potato-appropriate cream cheese, call it a day.
POTATO TEXTURE The magic of smashed potatoes is texture, a mix of soft mashed potatoes with pockets of crumbly potato bites and earthy skins. To maximize the texture, next time I'll "smash" about 3/4 of the cooked potatoes at first, then add the cream cheese and milk, then finally mash in the remaining potatoes.
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MORE THANKSGIVING-STYLE POTATO RECIPES~ Mashed Potatoes with Vegetarian Apple Cider Ginger Sage Gravy ~
~ Twice-Baked Potatoes ~
~ Potato & Poblano Pepper Gratin ~
~ more potato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Party Potatoes) ~
~ Mashed Potatoes & Carrots ~
~ Smashed Potatoes & Broccoli ~
~ more potato recipes ~
~ more Thanksgiving recipes ~
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