First of all, how fun to be inspired by a friend's recipe. Sonali's (The Foodie Physician's) original recipe, Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese, was a great leaping off point. I kept most of her flavors, including bay and garlic, and I added some shallot. I snuck in a bass note of bacon fat and further refined the caramelization process by pureeing the end result. What I ended up with was a super-yummy, restaurant style potato puree that really pays homage to the original recipe. I hope that Sonali approves.
A couple of other notes:
I used shallots, sweet onions and garlic because I wanted a mixture of alliums. If they had had leeks at the store that day, I probably would've thrown some of those into the mix as well.
I subbed out some of the butter for bacon fat to bring a bit of smokiness. Plus, the whole reason that I pureed all the alliums was that I like Unrelieved Smoothness in my mashies, and I didn't even want crispy bacon getting in the way. Although that would be good too. If you like that sort of thing.
- 2 heads of garlic (heads--not cloves)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 medium-large sweet onions, sliced longitudinally (the opposite of onion rings)
- 3 shallots, sliced longitudinally
- 3 pounds Russet (or other starchy) potatoes
- salt and white pepper, to taste
- 1 cup half and half
- ½ cup heavy cream
- peelings from half of the potatoes
- 2 Tablespoons bacon fat
- 3 ounces fontina cheese, grated or cut into wee chunks
- Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic to expose the cloves.
- Sprinkle with a little salt and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.
- Place a bay leaf over the cloves and wrap up in heavy duty aluminum foil.
- Roast at 350F until the cloves are very soft, about an hour.
- Using tongs, firmly squeeze the soft garlic puree from the bulbs and set aside.
- Add 1 Tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add the sliced onions, shallot, 1 bay leaf and salt and pepper. Let caramelize slowly, stirring often, until deep golden brown, about an hour.
- Peel and cut up the potatoes into 1" chunks, reserving half of the peels.
- Bring to a boil in water well-seasoned with salt and white pepper.
- Reduce to a high simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the half and half and cream with the potato skins, 2 Tablespoons of butter, the bacon fat and the roasted garlic puree.
- Bring just to a boil, then strain into a blender jar, pressing down hard on the solids. Add all but about ⅓ cup of the caramelized onions and shallots to the blender jar.
- Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- When the potatoes are tender, drain well and then set back over low heat, covered, for about 5 minutes to dry the potato chunks.
- Mash until smooth. Use a ricer if you have one.
- Pour in the dairy/onion mixture and continue to mash until homogenized.
- Sprinkle in the cheese, wait a minute to allow it to start to melt, and then mash it in thoroughly. You could also just stir it in to leave little pockets of melty-cheesy goodness.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Top each serving with a bit of the reserved caramelized onions and shallots.
This is definitely a restaurant-style side dish. By that I mean that I wouldn't go through all of the steps I just outlined on just any old day. Lots of time and pots are required. This is much more suited to restaurant service, where a prep cook could make the caramelized allium puree in bulk and have it ready.
Having said that, I am very happy that I made this, if only this one time. The sweet-smoky complexity of the onion/shallot/bacon fat really complements the smooth, creamy potatoes. What a great recipe inspiration to play with. Thank you Sonali!
Oh. What to do with leftovers? Here's an idea:
And there you have it. I hope you are inspired to try either Sonali's original recipe or my interpretation of it. That's what Food52sdays are all about! Have a lovely day.