Day Two of the countdown! Turkey day's just a week away, so today we bring you seven new ways to prepare Thanksgiving potatoes and gravy. Let's go beyond the mash!
For some people (the kind with self-control), Thanksgiving is the only day of the year to eat mashed potatoes. It's not solidly in the category of do-not-mess-with-this traditions, like turkey and cranberry sauce, but it's close. But – just playing devil's advocate here – as much as I love mashed potatoes, there are already a lot of starches on the Thanksgiving table, and if you do a sweet potato casserole of some sort, a lot of puree-type textures. Why not step out a little? Here are four potato dishes that might open your – and your guests' – eyes.
Pommes Anna is a classical French preparation: a shallow dish stacked with very thinly potatoes, drenched in butter and baked until they come together in a cake of crunchy, tender, buttery goodness. It's also a dish that will take you 12 years to prepare unless you have a mandoline, because the slices must be uniformly 1/8 of an inch thick. (And for the love of god USE THE FINGER GUARD on your mandoline; my boyfriend spent a Thanksgiving in the ER for lack of attention to that sharp blade. Dare I say, however – these potatoes are so damn delicious it almost made up for all the blood.) This Bon Appetit recipe for mini herbed pommes Anna is super-adorable, and the individual servings may help with portion control. Whatever.
Hasselbacks are another way to do potatoes in the oven – originally a Swedish preparation – and they are much easier to prepare, plus they look like hedgehogs! Just slice most-but-not-all of the way through your potatoes (any kind will work), stuff each cut with herbs and a thick slice of butter, and throw them in the oven to roast, where they'll fan out picturesquely. Here's Nigella Lawson's recipe, but there are a million variations out there (ahem, bacon) – Google's your friend.
If you are committed to the mash, there are a lot of ways you can think different. Lighten things up by adding steamed or parboiled celery root, parsnips or cauliflower to the potatoes, then mashing all together with milk, butter, etc. Smoke your potatoes on the grill before mashing, for a more exotic flavor (as per this recipe at Princess Tofu – and don't worry, despite the blog's name, there's hella heavy cream and butter in this dish). Or emulate the master of decadent mashed potatoes, French chef Joël Robuchon, with his recipe for pommes mousseline. These potatoes are legendary for incorporating equal amounts of butter and pureed potato.
Next page: all about the gravy.
"A condiment with no consequence"? How dare you, New York Times. (Nice photo, though.)
The New York Times has an awesome interactive Thanksgiving feature this year, but we beg to differ with this statement by Times food writer Julia Moskin: "To many Americans, gravy without mashed potatoes is like jam without toast: a condiment with no consequence."
Gravy is practically the whole point of Thanksgiving, and (at least on my family's plates) it goes everywhere – not just on potatoes. Just your basic, pan-made-at-the-last-minute gravy is fine by me, but if you're bored and looking for inspiration, here are three unique takes.
Red-eye gravy is a Southern staple, enriched with a porky base and grounded surprisingly with coffee for a deep savor. This Southern Living recipe is equally comfortable draped over your turkey, potatoes and yeasted rolls or ham, grits and biscuits.
Rachael Ray's (don't hate) maple-bacon gravy is easy, fast and melds perfectly with the fall flavors of root vegetables and roasted bird.
This recipe for chorizo gravy is a breakfast classic, but don't be too fast to overlook it at the Thanksgiving table – that spicy kick of green chiles and chorizo definitely livens things up.
Tomorrow in the countdown: six make-ahead desserts.