PART 3 of my Ultimate Thanksgiving Prep Series is all about Crock-pot Mashed Potatoes (yes, you read that right) and Gluten-Free Cornbread that you can use both for the stuffing and as a savory muffin to go along with the meal. Another two-for -one day for you.
Okay. I have a confession. I make my mashed potatoes…in a crock-pot. Now I have a secret to go along with this confession. They are, by far, some of the best mashed potatoes I have ever had.
And, I am not alone. There are others like me (I apologize if that sounds a little creepy). Case in point, Stephanie O’Dea, of the blogA Year of Slow Cooking and author of Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, has the same secret (well, hers is not a secret since she posted her recipe for them a couple of years ago on her blog). But I am just happy to know that I am in good company.
Now, regardless of whether you make this quintessential Thanksgiving side in the crock-pot or on the stove as you are putting the finishing touches on the rest of your dishes for your meal, there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you whip up (although whipping is not really the preferred method) the perfect mashed potatoes:
* Always start your potatoes in a pot of cold water and then bring them to a simmer, not a boil (boiling will give you water-logged potatoes).
* For good flavor, you can simmer the potatoes with the skin on and then once they are cool enough to handle, peel them.
* Make sure that the ingredients you are adding to the cooked potatoes are warm (i.e. heat your milk, cream, yogurt, cream-cheese, butter, or whatever you are adding). Cold ingredients will tighten the starches in the potatoes and make them ooey and gluey.
* Use a masher or a ricer, instead of an electric mixer. A mixer will leave you with gummy potatoes.
Making them in the crock pot using this method, eliminates the need for that well-known Thanksgiving jig called the Last Minute Potato Mash. It frees you up for all of that hectic chaos that usually ensues right before your crew sits down to the Thanksgiving meal (and yes, no matter how organized you are, it still seems that some form of frazzled energy erupts right before you are all about to sit down and give thanks).
And, like I said before, they are really some of the best potatoes I have ever eaten.
Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes
(Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free. Adaptions for Dairy-Free)
5 pounds yukon or red potatoes, cut into chunks
6 cloves minced garlic, or more to taste
2 cubes gluten-free vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (For Dairy-Free version: use Follow Your Heart Cream Cheese Alternative or Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
3/4 cup plain Greek-Style yogurt OR Sour Cream (For Dairy-Free version: use Dairy-free yogurt alternative or Follow Your Heart Sour Cream Alternative or Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place potatoes, garlic, and bouillon cubes in a large pot of lightly salted water and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving water. If you left the skins on during simmering, peel once cool enough to handle (or leave on, to add texture and flavor to your dish).
2. Put potatoes through a potato ricer or use a masher. Then mix with the cream cheese (or Dairy-Free alternative) and yogurt or sour cream (or Dairy-Free alternative), adding reserved water as needed until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
3. Transfer the potato mixture to a slow cooker, cover with a dish towel, then place lid over the dish towel (to prevent the moisture from dripping off lid and falling into the potatoes). Cook on Low for 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper to taste.
I also have a special stuffing recipe that I will be sharing with you in my next post this weekend. Because part of this recipe includes cornbread, and because I also like to serve savory cornbread muffins to go along with our holiday meal, I make a lot of cornbread during the week of Thanksgiving.
One would think that after all of these years, I might be getting tired of cornbread. Umm…one might be right. And next year, I think I may risk changing it up a bit. But for this year, I will prevent any family upheavals and will keep with what they love best. Cornbread.
I use the cornbread recipe below for both the stuffing cubes and, after adding some optional ingredients, for my savory muffins as well.
(Gluten-free, Nut-free; Easily Dairy-Free, and Egg-Free)
1 cup cornmeal (I use Arrowhead Mill’s Organic Yellow Cornmeal)
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten (For Egg-Free: mix together 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce and 1 tsp baking powder)
¾ cup plain yogurt (For Dairy-Free: use dairy-free yogurt alternative)
¼ cup plain milk (For Dairy-Free: use plain rice, oat, soy, or hemp milk)
4 Tbsp butter, melted (For Dairy Free: use organic canola oil, OR Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, melted instead)
Optional Addition for Muffins to serve with the meal
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen and thawed)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (totally optional if avoiding Dairy)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan (or for the muffins, line 12 muffin cups or lightly grease)
3. In large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, rice flour, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
4. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the eggs (or egg replacement) with the melted butter (or dairy-free replacement) and beat for 1 minute. Add in yogurt and milk (or dairy-free replacements).
5. Add in the dry ingredients a little at a time and gently mix, just until well incorporated, about one minute. It should be relatively thick.
6. If you choose, at this point gently stir in (by hand) the rosemary, corn, cheddar cheese (optional), and onion.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan or spoon the batter into the muffin cups (if making muffins).
8. Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for 23-25 minutes if making pan or about 20 minutes for the muffins. Should feel firm to the touch; and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
9. Cool on wire rack.
THE ULTIMATE THANKSGIVING PREP SERIES:
PART 4: The Gluten-free Cornbread and Crusty Bread Stuffing I have been promising (and trust me, you will not want to leave out the secret ingredient).
PART 7: The MASTER Shopping List