Chunky or smooth?
The texture of Thanksgiving mashed potatoes is subjective, of course. Personal chef Tyler Fox, who worked an unpaid job at St. John and Rochelle Canteen in London, prefers a rustic interpretation, or what Brits simply call “mash.”
Fox’s mash is heartier than a straight-laced puree of potatoes because he adds celeriac, a root vegetable with a taste similar to celery. Other names include turnip-rooted celery, knob celery and celery root.
He also adds parsnips, a root vegetable that looks like a white carrot.
To the copious amounts of butter or cream most Thanksgiving dishes demand, Fox likes to add a bit of acidity with a garnish of pickled mustard seed.
“They have the acidity to cut through cream or butter and the base tones of potato,” he says.
To pickle mixed yellow and brown mustard seeds: Combine 1/2 cup mustard seeds in saucepan with 1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar, 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring mixture to a boil for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the seeds to “bloom,” releasing their natural pectins. Allow mixture to cool; the seeds will continue to bloom and jell to a spoonable consistency. Store in the refrigerator for up to several months.
In a pinch, substitute white and red wines for rice wine and sherry vinegars. Or, if you are looking for a shortcut, substitute whole-grain mustard.
Root Vegetable Mash
Makes 12 servings
3 pounds starchy potatoes, such as Russet or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into chunks
1 to 2 medium-sized celery roots, about 1 pound, peeled and cut into medium chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in 1- to 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons pickled mustard seeds or whole-grain mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, cover potatoes, celery root, parsnips and garlic with cold water and a teaspoon of salt. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until cooked through and they can be pierced easily with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes.
In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream, thyme, bay leaves and rosemary to a simmer and keep warm until time to mash.
To mash by hand, drain root vegetables and return to pan while mashing with a hand masher to a coarse puree. For a finer puree, run vegetables through a food mill or ricer.
Remove herbs from cream and stir into the root vegetables, being gentle so as not to overwork the mixture, which can lead to a gummy texture.
To finish, stir in butter and pickled mustard seeds or whole-grain mustard. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary and keep warm in a casserole dish.
Serve with warm Shiitake Mushroom Brandy Gravy.
Per serving: 326 calories (58 percent from fat), 22 grams total fat (13 grams saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 31 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 227 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.