Chunky or smooth mashed potatoes is a debate that has been waged over the Thanksgiving table for decades. Some prefer the more rustic texture achieved by a potato masher or a good old fashioned fork, while others seek a velvety consistency with a food mill or ricer. But for BA food editor Zaynab Issa, the key to success was combining the best of both worlds.
“I feel like one of the biggest problems with mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving is lumpy versus creamy mashed potatoes,” she says. “I wanted to come up with something that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.”
To create this holy grail, Issa started by reimagining how this recipe could use one of the most wasted ingredients in traditional mashed potatoes: the potato skins. “There had to be a better use for them,” Issa says. So she thin-sliced and shallow-fried the skins in butter and oil to transmute them into a crispy, crunchy topping.
That supercharged butter and oil then gets added to the mashed potatoes themselves, helping to create a creamy texture. While the skins fry, some of the butter will brown, which adds another layer of magical, nutty complexity. And to ensure the mashed potatoes reach peak creaminess, Issa opts for cream instead of milk.
A lot of mashed potato recipes include a couple cloves of garlic, but this isn’t one of them. Instead, a whole head of garlic gets boiled with the potatoes, which softens the raw allium’s firm texture and sharp essence. After boiling, Issa says, “the garlic flavor is a little bit more sweet and soft.” The cloves are then smushed along with the potatoes, so that the two ingredients get to know each other, fall in love, and live a long and happy life.
The best part, though? This dish is easily halved, so after making mashed potatoes for a holiday crowd, it can be downsized for weeknight dinners year-round.