Let’s establish something right out of the gate: mashed potatoes shouldn’t be smooth. I don’t care what you say, I don’t care how it makes you feel; I said what I said. The only mashed potatoes that are supah-smoove are the ones that come in those boxes with the metal spout. They are potato flakes, for God’s sake!!! Do you really want to eat dehydrated potato flakes?!?! Because I don’t. No, I want these Rustic and Rich Baked Mashed Potatoes. After trying them, you will too.
Real Potatoes Have Lumps- Like I Do
You know what? I’m lumpy, and people still love me. Your mashed potatoes shouldn’t have to be perfect for you to accept them as they are. I’m not saying you’re shallow if you like über-smooth potatoes…I’m just saying you need to do some soul-searching.
I grew up eating those potatoes that came in a box. They tasted like they came from a box, too. My life’s goal was to never let that box break the threshold of my home and I’ve honored that. Not for nothing, but those potato flakes can’t- on any level- hold a candle to the real deal! Not only are boxed potatoes more expensive than a bag of real spuds, they taste like cardboard, and they lack texture. Why would we settle?!? Okay, some people must have smooth mashed potatoes; I guess it’s a thing for them. Accepting that, I’ve included instructions for those people, too.
I use two types of potatoes in my rustic and rich version: waxy Yukon golds and starchy Russets. The former provide color and break up the starchiness of the Russets, which are the flUFFIEST THINGS EVER!!!! The “rich” in my mash comes from cream cheese and butter from my favorite brand Challenge Dairy, as well as sour cream and half-and-half. Please don’t ask about the calorie count- ignore it. Yolo, friend. YOLO.
I add roasted garlic to the mash, and season with salt, pepper, a hint of nutmeg and a good amount of parsley.
Baked, Not Boiled
Baking the potatoes for this rustic and rich mashed potato dish is not only uniquely smart- it’s flavorful. A pot of boiling water takes up space on your stove, requires the potatoes to be peeled and chopped, and steams up what is already a pretty hot kitchen. YOU are in it, after all 😉 (ahh? AHHH? See what I did there? Love you too) Boiling also leeches out some of the flavor of the potatoes. Instead, I line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and grease up the skins of my potatoes with vegetable oil. The oil keeps the potatoes from sticking to the pan.
I pierce the surface of the potatoes with a fork to vent them and to prevent the potatoes bursting while they bake.
Alongside of the potatoes, I’m also going to roast an entire head of garlic. I do this by cutting off the tip of the garlic (the end without the hairy root). After nestling the head of garlic into a foil pouch, I pour the last of the vegetable oil over it and close the pouch up tight. This helps roast and steam the garlic simultaneously.
I then pop the pan into an oven that I’ve pre-heated to three hundred fifty degrees. I bake the potatoes for forty-five minutes to an hour, or until a knife inserted into the largest potato meets little to no resistance. While the potatoes are baking, I can go about getting the rest of dinner prepared. No worrying about water boiling over or checking every few minutes to see if the potatoes are done.
Steam to Loosen the Jackets
The first time I heard the skin of a potato referred to as a “jacket”, I ’bout lost my mind. I just imagined the potato coming into the kitchen saying, “Whew!! It’s a doozy out there,” while removing it’s coat.
Once the potatoes have finished baking, cover the sheet pan with a kitchen towel and allow the trapped moisture to begin steaming the skins of the potatoes. This will also give the potatoes a chance to cool off a little bit. We need to peel them while they’re still hot and there’s a reason why the phrase “Hot Potato” has been coined. These bad boys get HAWT.
The potatoes need to steam for about ten minutes. During this time, gather your dairy products and seasonings. Having these ready allows the residual heat from the potatoes to melt the butter and cream cheese, which ensures your mash is nice and smooth when you’re done mixing.
After the ten minutes of steaming has elapsed, peel the potatoes (they’re still hot, so be careful). Just leave the skins on the sheet pan.
Toss the peeled taters into a large mixing bowl. Unwrap the roasted head of garlic, and squeeze out the soft pulp by pressing on the stem end. Gather up the foil on the sheet pan and throw the potato skins and empty husk of garlic away. I’d like to point out that you’ve only dirtied a fork and a two bowls thus far.
Make them Rustic and Rich
Grab your potato masher and smash the potatoes and garlic together until no large chunks remain. If you’re “Team Smoove”, go ahead and mash until you’ve pulverized the poor taters to your sadistic heart’s content.
Once the potatoes are mashed to your liking (i.e., lumpy) add the first quantity of cubed butter. Yes, I said “the first quantity”. This dish has two sticks of butter in it- rustic and rich, my friend. Rustic and RICH.
Now add the cubed, room temperature cream cheese. Room temperature cheese melts into the hot potatoes faster, which makes the finished potatoes creamier.
Now’s the time, while the cream cheese and butter are melting, to season the potatoes. Use a microplane to grate an eighth of a teaspoon (just a pinch) of nutmeg into the mashed potatoes (you can also use ground nutmeg). Finish seasoning with some kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Add the chopped Italian (or flat leaf) parsley.
To finish up the mash, pour in the half-and-half (or you can use whole milk, but it won’t be as rich)…
…and the sour cream. Stir the mixture until the mashed potatoes are smooth in their lumpiness. I have no idea what I just typed, but go with it.
Pan and Keep Warm
Use a rubber spatula to transfer your rustic and rich mashed potatoes to a lightly greased nine-by-thirteen inch casserole dish. I use the wrappers from the butter to grease the inside of the casserole dish. Smooth the mash into the pan in an even layer.
Dot the top of your mashed potatoes with slices of the remaining stick of butter and cover your pan with foil. With all the mixing and the addition of the other ingredients, we’ve cooled down the mash a lot. Place the dish in the oven and allow it to warm through- twenty minutes should do it.
Uncover, Stir, and Serve
After your potatoes have been warmed, remove the dish from the oven and uncover. The butter will have melted over the surface of the potatoes (I added more because I just don’t give a damn).
Stir the melted butter into the potatoes and garnish with more chopped flat leaf parsley. Hell! Add some more butter, too! But, do serve while they’re still piping hot.
Like most mashed potatoes, this Rustic and Rich version is best served hot. You can hold the mashed potatoes in a warm oven for up to two hours- the temp should be at one-fifty. This makes it amazing for hosting dinner parties and the like.
If you’re making this ahead of time, just skip the warming step and place the foil-covered dish into the fridge. When you’re ready to warm it, allow the dish to sit at room temperature to take the chill off. Heat in a three hundred fifty degree oven for a half hour, or until warmed through.
Leftovers are good for three days and this recipe freezes exceptionally well. Just wrap your dish in plastic wrap followed by a layer of heavy duty foil, then freeze up to two months. Allow it to thaw for twenty-four hours in the refrigerator before heating as instructed.
Pin this recipe to your accompaniments or sides boards so you can find it easily, and let me know in the comments: are you Team Lumpy or Team Smooth?
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Rustic and Rich Baked Mashed Potatoes
- 3 pounds Russet potatoes scrubbed and dried
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes scrubbed and dried
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
- 1 head garlic
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, separated, at room temperature
- 1 8 oz package cream cheese, cubed, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more to garnish
- 2 1/2 cups half and half
- 1 cup sour cream
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, and separate a smaller square of foil for wrapping your head of garlic in. Use the butter wrappers to grease a 9"x13" casserole dish.
Prepare the Potatoes
- Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over the potatoes' skins. Massage the oil into the skins. Pierce the surface of the potatoes with a fork to allow steam to escape while they bake.
- Slice off the tip of the garlic (the end without the hairy root), then nestle it into the smaller piece of foil. Pour the remaining vegetable oil over the garlic and close the pouch of foil.
- Bake the potatoes for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the largest potato meets little, to no, resistance.
- Once the potatoes have finished baking, cover the sheet pan with a kitchen towel and allow the trapped moisture to steam the skins of the potatoes for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the skins from the potatoes. Discard the skins.
- Reduce the oven's temperature to 170°F (or set to "Warm").
- Place the peeled potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Unwrap the head of garlic, and squeeze the soft pulp into the bowl with the potatoes by pressing on the stem end.
Mash and Flavor the Potatoes
- Using a potato masher, smash the potatoes and garlic together until no large chunks remain.
- Cut 1 stick of butter into 1/2" cubes, then add it, and the cubed cream cheese, to the potatoes.
- Season the potatoes with the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chopped parsley. Stir to combine the mixture.
- Add the half-and-half and the sour cream. Stir the mixture until everything is completely blended.
Pan and Keep Warm
- Transfer the potatoes to the casserole dish and smooth it into an even layer.
- Slice the remaining stick of butter into pats a 1/2" thick. Dot the top of your mashed potatoes with the butter and cover the pan with foil.
- Place the dish in the warm oven and allow the potatoes to warm through, about 20 minutes.
- After the potatoes have been warmed, remove the dish from the oven and uncover. Stir the melted butter into the potatoes and garnish with more chopped flat leaf parsley.
- Serve while piping hot.
- The mashed potatoes may be kept in an oven, set on warm, for up to 2 hours.
- If you're preparing this in advance, skip the final warming step and place the foil-covered dish into the fridge. When you're ready to warm it, allow the dish to sit at room temperature to take the chill off. Heat the potatoes in a 350°F oven for a 1/2 hour, or until warmed through.
- Leftovers are good for 3 days.
- This recipe freezes exceptionally well: wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap followed by a layer of heavy duty foil, then freeze up to 2 months. Allow it to thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator before heating as instructed.