Monday, December 13, 2010

Mashed Potatoes: An Ode to Roots

Mashed potatoes have been the pinnacle of my existence from an early age. It was always the requested food for birthdays and special occasions. It was the food I pestered my mom the most to make. I ordered it when I went out and compared flavors. I even had an embarrassing stint where I insisted on drizzling ranch on every serving, which I'd rather forget. I learned how to make my own and did so often like it was going out of (missionary) style.

Becoming vegan did not change my long-term passion for my mashed root vegetable delight. I grew upset at first, thinking there was no way I could recreate this dish without it tasting to soy-like, or not buttery enough. I avoided making them for months, exiling it from my memory as best I could.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I could deny myself no longer. I had to try, at the very least, to conjure a suitable recipe that tasted enough like the mashed potatoes I was used to eating at home. So here it is, in all its creamy whipped glory:

Jen's Vegan Mashed Potatoes (serves two, or 1 with a gluttonous appetite like myself)

4-6 big russet potatoes (washed)
Vegan sour cream (I like Tofutti Sour Supreme)
soy milk
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 pinch turmeric
Optional: 1 pinch cayenne,  cracked black pepper, or other fun savory spice on hand

**You'll notice I don't have many measurements listed for this recipe, and it's because I learned from my mother and grandmother by feel and sight rather than measuring cups and spoons. It's okay to get a little messy with the vegansexual kitchen: start with a little, taste along the way. I CAN say it takes quite a bit of vegan sour cream, so budget accordingly.

1.Wash and peel your potatoes. Bring a salted pot of water to boil (I don't know, two, three quarts?). Cut into even chunks so that they cook evenly. After reaching a rolling boil, dump potatoes in and give a quick stir.

2.Cook for about 10-13 minutes. Check on the potatoes every few minutes, giving a stir when necessary. You don't really have to mess with potatoes too much, they take care of themselves. Cook till fork tender.
3.When you've reached the right consistency, drain potatoes thoroughly. Transfer back to your original pot and ready your hand mixer (you could use a potato-masher, but I'm from Oklahoma: we whip our potatoes and call them mashed; just doing my part to queer New England dishes!)

4.Add three heaping dollops of sour cream, about 1/4 cup of Earth Balance, and a couple splashes of soy milk. Add a few shakes of salt for good measure. Set your mixer to low and start whipping. Scrape the sides with a spatula. When everything looks blended, taste a bit to check it out. If the consistency is too dry, or you taste too much potato (I know, ironic), then add a bit more of all of the above. Add the rest of the Earth Balance either way to get that butter taste.

5. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with turmeric and any another sexy spice. Serve with a pat of Earth Balance.

The result is a creamy, not-too-starchy mashed potato DE-LISH dish that functions well as a companion to Tofurkey/vegan gravy, or your savory mushroom dishes. Although if your family is anything like mine, you'll eat it all the time with completely inappropriate combos. Like pasta or sandwiches.

I ate about a quarter of these before my mom picked me up for Thanksgiving (washed down with a pre-family vodka cocktail) and I was already in heaven. The consistency of mashed potatoes is serious and weight-y: it's not one to fuck around. You're forced to confront it filling your entire mouth and throat with true potato taste and thickness. It goes down warm and slowly and draws your consciousness to the entire line of your esophagus down to your stomach where it rests and fills you before your next bite. The sensations were just as I remember. Sans cruelty, I had courted a former lover with new persistence. Hope you enjoy!

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