>Perfect Mashed Potatoes for a Comfort Food Fest

Back in the early days of my marriage, before our nights were filled with bath time and potty accidents, my husband and I were cooking school junkies. We started out with a 6 night Techniques of Fine Cooking class, moved on through level three, and then delved into exotic cuisines like Italian, Indian, and even Thai.

Every Saturday afternoon, we jumped on the subway, knives tucked into our backpacks like terrorists, looking forward to long hours of chopping and sweating. Then we would head home to our little brownstone apartment, debating what to name the angelic cherubs we dreamed of giving birth to one day.

Only one incident mars my recollection. It was during one of the early Tech cooking classes. We were working on vichyssoise, the cold potato leek soup. Chef Amanda was walking around, tasting everyone’s final product. Some would describe Chef Amanda as a woman who pushed us to excel by treating us like vocational culinary students. Others would have described her as a slave driver. And none of us wanted to fall on her bad side. She dipped a spoon in my saucepan, gingerly placed it in her mouth, smacked her lips with a pout of distate, and loudly pronounced her verdict: “gummy.”
Then she threw my soup in the trash.
Using my failure as an example, she explained that excessive whipping can stimulate the gluten in potatoes, making them tough and gummy. Ever since, I’ve avoided all mashed potato related dishes. Until last night, when our craving for comfort food outweighed my terror of the ghost of Chef Amanda.

I used a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for French-Style mashed potatoes as my base and coupled it with some panko crusted chicken breast strips. The Cook’s Illustrated recipe was delightfully easy and the mashed potatoes smooth and silky. I was afraid that the mashing the potatoes in the food processor would result in the dreaded gummy quality, and while at first, they were a bit springy, adding a little more whole milk loosened them up.

The Cook’s Illustrated recipe called for many non-traditional ingredients like garlic and cheese. As a Frenchie, I just couldn’t condone that, so I have edited them out of the recipe.

French-Style Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and rinsed Kosher Salt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter 1 to 1 1/2 cups of whole milk

  1. Place potatoes in large saucepan; add water to cover by 1 inch and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover saucepan with lid and bring potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender and break apart when pierced with fork (about 15 minutes).
  2. Drain potatoes and dry saucepan.
  3. Transfer the potatoes to a food processor, add butter and salt. Pulse until butter is melted and incorporated into potatoes.
  4. Add 1 cup of milk and continue to process until potatoes are smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Taste. Add more milk if you detect any “gumminess.”
  6. Serve immediately.

Panko Encrusted Baked Chicken Strips
Ingredients: 2 boneless chicken breasts 1 package of panko bread crumbs 3 eggs
Optional: grated parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut your chicken breasts into generous strips, about 1 inch wide by 3-4 inches long.
  3. Break eggs into shallow container and beat with fork.
  4. Pour panko bread crumbs into another shallow container. If you are so inclined, mix in the 1/2 cup
  5. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on chicken strips.
  6. Dip strips first in egg mixture then in panko breadcrumbs.
  7. Place each breaded strip on an aluminum baking sheet.
  8. Cook in oven until one side is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  9. Flip and cook for another 10 minutes.

4 Responses to >Perfect Mashed Potatoes for a Comfort Food Fest

  1. >That Chef Amanda would hate my potatoes then. My husband only likes "stick to his ribs" mashed potatoes. I can barely add any cream to them. Drives me nuts.

  2. >Baking chicken like that with either panko or regular italian breadcrumbs is pretty much my go-to chicken dinner in the fall/winter (when I don't grill outdoors). Yum!

  3. >So you've lived a real Chef Gordon Ramsey type of experience. Wow. I thought they were like that only on TV.

    Thanks for popping by!!!!! These mashed taters sound wonderful to me right now.

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