Food52sday Recipe Interpretation: Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Allium Puree and Fontina

mashed taters 034First 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:

mashed taters 010The original recipe calls for infusing the dairy with bay and garlic.  I kept those flavors by roasting two heads of garlic together with some bay.

mashed taters 016I heated the dairy with about half of my potato peelings to bring a more intense potato-y-ness to the proceedings.

mashed taters 004I 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.

mashed taters 018mashed taters 017 mashed taters 024I 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.

Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Allium Puree and Fontina
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6-8
A mixture of caramelized alliums and bacon fat provide a sweet smokiness. Pureeing the allium mixture keeps the creamy texture nice and smooth.
What You Need
  • 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
What To Do
  1. Cut the tops off of the heads of garlic to expose the cloves.
  2. Sprinkle with a little salt and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Place a bay leaf over the cloves and wrap up in heavy duty aluminum foil.
  4. Roast at 350F until the cloves are very soft, about an hour.
  5. Using tongs, firmly squeeze the soft garlic puree from the bulbs and set aside.
  6. Add 1 Tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat.
  7. Add the sliced onions, shallot, 1 bay leaf and salt and pepper. Let caramelize slowly, stirring often, until deep golden brown, about an hour.
  8. Peel and cut up the potatoes into 1" chunks, reserving half of the peels.
  9. Bring to a boil in water well-seasoned with salt and white pepper.
  10. Reduce to a high simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender.
  11. Meanwhile, heat the half and half and cream with the potato skins, 2 Tablespoons of butter, the bacon fat and the roasted garlic puree.
  12. 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.
  13. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  14. When the potatoes are tender, drain well and then set back over low heat, covered, for about 5 minutes to dry the potato chunks.
  15. Mash until smooth. Use a ricer if you have one.
  16. Pour in the dairy/onion mixture and continue to mash until homogenized.
  17. 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.
  18. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  19. 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:

taters and spinach 004And 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.





    • says

      Truth be told, I could’ve made it straight by your recipe and would have loved it! Here, the challenge was to take something already amazing and switch it up. Was great fun to play with this, and it was So So So Good! Thanks for the inspiration; you’re awesome! 🙂


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