Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mashed potatoes and dinosaur kale

Everybody knows how to make mashed potatoes, right? There's probably a thousand different ways to do it and if you are somebody who makes them you probably already have a preferred methodology. But I got excited about making them recently and I don't know if you've noticed, but there is quite a derth of potato recipes on this blog. That's because I don't really like potatoes. They bore me. But right now I am extremely interested in mashed potatoes and I plan to make them again very soon. If you haven't made them lately, give it a shot! It's so easy it'll have you wondering why you don't do it every single day. Or if the reason you don't do it every single day is because the little bastards are not particularly nutritious, take note that I cooked some very healthy dark, leafy greens alongside and that sort of mitigates the butter-salt-starch whammy of mashed potato perdition. Also, potatoes are a great source of Vitamin C! It's true, look it up! How else do you think the Irish avoided scurvy all those years?

Peeled up 4 large-sized Yukon Gold potatoes. This type of potato is often only available on the smallish size so you may need more than 4. It was probably just shy of 2 pounds total. After peeling, cut into even-size chunks and put them in a pot to boil under they were tender. This really only took about 15-20 minutes. Drained them and left them in the pot to mash up with about 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into small pieces. You could definetely add more butter, but since we put a load on top after mashing was complete, that was a good place to stop. We didn't have any whole milk in the fridge so we used skim and then also some half-and-half. It was probably about 1/2 cup of liquid altogether. Just keep on mashing the potatoes up with the butter and liquid dairy product of your choice, then add a ton of salt and pepper. Taste it to make sure there is enough salt because it's just incredible how much salt you have to put in before you can even notice it. Mash, mash, mash until it is of a consistency that you enjoy. Then add more butter on top and eat them. Seriously--that's all you have to do. Boil peeled chunks of potatoes until soft, drain them and then mash them up with butter and milk, salt and pepper. And then you will have mashed potatoes. The next day you can fry leftover mashed potatoes in a pan until heated through and add minced pickled jalapenos with the shredded cheese of your choice. Or with pieces of bacon and sauteed mushrooms. It's like ghetto potato galettes. Perhaps I should call them ghetto-lettes?

The nutritional redemption of your meal can come in the form of dark, leafy greens. I bought a bunch of dinosaur kale at the market, mostly because it has the word "dinosaur" in the name. The same day I also bought a fruit called "dinosaur pluots" so I guess I'm pretty easy to market to. Cut off the stems of the kale and took out the central rib, which is a little bit too tough to cook well. Sliced up the kale into ribbons and washed it well (it can be kind of sandy). In a large high-sided pan, heated 3 tablespoons of olive oil and added 4 thinly sliced cloves of garlic (it was my beloved Ohio hardneck garlic, actually) and about 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes. When the garlic was soft and getting a little bit golden, added in the kale and stirred well until it was reduced in size. Then turned down the heat and covered to cook, occasionally stirring. Added about 1/3 cup of chicken stock after about 15 minutes of cooking and uncovered the pan to reduce the liquid somewhat towards the end of cooking. It probably took about 20-25 minutes for the greens to cook. They were spicy, garlicky and full-flavored, which makes them a perfect partner for mellow mashed potatoes.

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