Mashed potatoes, hummph.
Blah, blah, bland, and everyone puts it on the table for the holidays, but we all know it’s just an excuse to slurp down some more gravy, because really now, one mashed tater is nearly identical to any other mashed tater. I like making a little volcano of it and filling the caldera with butter or gravy. But there’s got to be more to it, right? There’s got to be more than “special secret” additives like pepper or cream cheese or cheddar, right ?!?
Well OK, cheddar i can’t resist. But there’s got to be something fundamental about the recipe which can be altered to make a brand-new animal. Here’s where the idea for this recipe came from: tater tots. They’ve been around for 40 years, god bless the food process engineer who thought of the tater tot. I use crispy crowns, myself. They’re more like a coin shape than the regular cylinder tot, and in my opinion they get, well, crispier.
But last month i tried some of the “new wave” of tater tots, the healthy ones that are supposed to make you feel better about yourself because they’re more vegetable-ish or something. And they were fantastic. Picked ’em up because the local grocer had a half-off price-slash as a “discontinued item” but i swear i can’t remember what brand they were. If i could recall, i’d drive across town for them!
So next i tried the ones from Green Giant which are made just from cauliflower and broccoli, but i can not recommend them. Never got crisp, had a back-mouth bitterness, and no matter what sauce i dipped ’em into, they stayed bland. No sirree, the first ones i tried were brocc and cauli, but had a base of potato, and that really made the whole difference.
Got me to thinking, what with it being holiday bring-a-dish time and all, could i use what i learned from new-wave tater tots to make a new kind of mashed potato? And the answer is YES, there is a new land of mashed potatoes, just beyond the lee foothills of that gravy volcano.
A little of this, a little of that, OK now let’s get crackin’ on a Broccaulitater Whip!
a 2 gallon pot (8 liter)
a big bowl and one large bowl
a large colander
a large spoon with a hole in it, or a wire-mesh fryer scoop
a peeler tool
a semi-sharp paring knife
a handheld potato masher with the serpentine metal head
a rubber scraper
a 13×9 3-quart glass casserole dish, god bless pyrex
5 pounds yukon gold potatoes
1 large or 2 medium cauliflower heads
2 large broccoli heads
8 garlic cloves
8 ounce bar of cream cheese
4 ounces salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. remove cream, butter, and cream cheese from refrigerator for a few hours to warm up. If you’re worried about your waistline and see 8 ounces of cream cheese and 4 ounces of butter and heavy cream, then take a step back, and look at the NINE POUNDS of pure vegetables this recipe calls for. Veggies outweigh dairy 9 to 1 here.
2. peel paper off the garlic cloves, and cut the stemmy end just a bit.
3. wash and peel the potatoes. This is the heaviest “work” in the recipe, but just set your mind to it and you’ll be done in 15 minutes.
4. quarter the larger potatoes, chop smaller ones in half.
5. pare down the cauliflower leaving 1 inch stems on the florets.
6. pare down the broccoli, leaving 1/2 inch stems.
1. add garlic to a big pot of water, let the water run from the cold tap until it’s as cold as it will get, then set it on HIGH heat. Because cold water comes from outside, and hasn’t been sitting in your domicile’s lead pipes for hours.
2. bring water to a boil.
3. add potatoes, let it get it back to a boil before dropping the heat to MED-HIGH.
4. boil 15-20 minutes, stir now and then, then drop the heat to LOW.
5. remove potatoes with the slotted spoon or small strainer, put into the colander, leaving the garlic cloves in the water.
6. bring the water back to a boil at MED-HIGH.
7. dump the taters into large bowl, no need to rinse the colander yet.
8. mash the potatoes. This is much easier than it sounds, using the handheld masher will not wear your arm out, because they’re already very soft and mooshy.
9. when water boils again, add the cauliflower florets to cook for 10 minutes.
10. while the cauli cooks, add to potatoes:
– 8 oz cream cheese,
– 4 oz butter,
– 1/2 tsp pepper,
– 1/2 tsp salt
11. blend using the masher, until butter and cheese are melted throughout. Much easier, when the butter and cream cheese are already soft at room temperature.
12. put broccoli into a bowl, add 4 tbsp water, then drop the heat on the cauliflower to MEDIUM.
13. cover broccoli bowl with a plate, microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes.
14. when cauliflower is done, dump the whole pot, including the garlic cloves, into the colander to drain.
15. dump cauliflower from colander into a big bowl.
16. mash cauliflower, including garlic cloves.
17. remove broccoli from microwave (use pot holders to pick up the bowl), and drain the broccoli in the colander.
18. add broccoli to the cauliflower and mash it.
19. add 1/2 cup heavy cream, mash it all up well.
20. preheat your oven to 350º.
21. scrape the bocco-cauli bowl into the potato mixture.
22. mix it all together, and even now the handheld masher is easy to use because everything’s warm and soft and gooshy.
23. spread whole thing into a 3-quart 13×9 pyrex dish. If you’re clever with a spoon, you can make little peaks which will turn brown in the oven.
24. finish it by baking at 350º for 15 minutes. Either finish it now, or refrigerate and finish it tomorrow, but if so, let it sit out for a while to warm up before baking.
25. eat it.
Now, about that last step, #25… i had more left over which wouldn’t fit in the pyrex casserole dish. Had 1/4 of a pork loin left over from someday, diced that up, mixed it in, and microwaved it for a few minutes. Completely delicious.
This Broccaulitater Whip does not have alot of flavor on its own. Yes, it’s a step above plain mashed potatoes, but it is not meant to be a foodstuff standing alone. At Thankday i tried it in volcano form with a butter caldera. Pretty tasty. Then tried it with gravy, even better.
And i have to say, in both cases it topped regular mashed potatoes by a long mile. But you can’t just sit down and eat a plate of this recipe on its own. It’s at its best when used as a base for something else mixed in.
Plenty of leftovers, so i picked up some of those 10-ounce frozen Green Giant “sauced sides,” found on sale for a buck apiece. One was rice with carrots, peas, and mushrooms in a creamy sauce. Decent on its own, but when added to a few cups of this recipe, it was damned tasty. Then sprussel brouts in a buttery sauce mixed into a few cups of this Whip… wow that was delicious. And it was only a buck extra.
So i submit to you the Broccaulitater Whip. Not truly whipped, but even a simple masher blends it just fine. Not a “thing” to eat and savor on its own, but it makes a bunch of other things better. Have a couple cups of this left, and think i’ll mix in sauteed mushrooms and diced ham. No reason why you can’t mix in whatever you want too.
For someone with kids, chop up hot dogs and mix them into this, and the tykes will be eating their cauliflower and broccoli and beg for more. If you’re fancy, i could see this topped with marsala sauce and a duck breast medallion. You can make it a truly vegan thing by skipping the cream cheese and butter and cream, but you’d have to add some umami to compensate for losing the savour of the dairy items.
This recipe yields about 4 quarts and it responded very well to being refrigerated for a week. Didn’t seep off any liquid or turn into sludge, and it did not harden and crust and crack. As a basic foodstuff, i’m impressed by its durability. Leads me to believe that it could be frozen and thawed with no loss of texture. Maybe next time, i’ll try that.