There is a resaurant in North Conway, NH called The Red Fox, that has uber kid-friendly service and great cocktails and wood-fired pizza. As if that wasn’t enough, they serve these smoked gouda mashed potatoes that are so good I will drive two hours just to eat them.
I recently tried to make them at home, and they are so easy and so yummy. If you’re looking to add an easy, delicious twist to this classic Thanksgiving side dish, these should be in contention.
I thought I would share a few tips that helped make these so good. They will help you with any kind of mash you are trying to make – sour cream and chive, cheddar, horseradish, truffle, bacon (I’m getting hungry typing that list.) Just follow the basic potato-butter-salt-milk/cream steps and then add your preferred flavor ingredient a little at time, tasting along the way (the best job?) and tweaking by adding more of the flavor ingredient or salt and pepper. Here are some basic tips that will help you always get the best mashed potatoes.
1) Use Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes. The Russet will be whiter and fluffier, while some people prefer the golden color of the Yukon Gold. I find both deliver great results.
2) Start with your potatoes in cold water. Cubing them helps to cook faster. Once you have cubed them, put them in a pot with cold water and a teaspoon of salt, then turn on a medium-high flame and cook for 15-20. Then drain them, and as soon as you can, add your other ingredients.
3) Add your ingredients while the potatoes are still hot, and warm up your dairy. I’ve read lots of cooks describe how to make good mashed potatoes – Alton Brown, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart. The common denominator for all of them is to make sure you add the ingredients while the potatoes are warm, and it is even better if you can warm up the dairy – milk, butter, cream or cheese – first before you start to mash them. They will just absorb the flavor better when they are hot.
4) Use a potato masher or potato ricer. The method of mashing is a personal preference I think. I’ve used a potato masher the whole of my cooking life and I tend to like my mashed potatoes with a few bits of potatoes here and there, it feels a bit rustic. If that is not you, the potato ricer is the way to go, and you’ll avoid lumps completely. If you want them to be extra fluffy, break out the hand mixer, which I tend to do for Thanksgiving but not for every day dinners.
5) Taste them and tweak as needed. When you taste them your taste buds will tell you if you need more salt/pepper/butter/milk. Almost every time I make mashed potatoes I am adding a little more of one of these, and it helps if you give a spoonful to some warm body standing around to see if they thing it could use a tiny bit more of the above.
If you follow these steps and then taste for seasoning and texture you will end up with amazing potatoes, I promise. Purists recommend using white pepper but I am not a purist.
Now let’s talk about add Smoked Gouda. You’ll want to buy two smoked gouda rounds since they are usually about 1/2 pound and this recipe calls for 1 pound. Get out the box grater or the food processor. I am sure I’m not alone, but I always feel like you either spend the time grating or you spend the time cleaning the food processor, so I usually opt for the arm workout.
5 lbs. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 T. unsalted butter (add more to taste if preferred)
2 cups whole milk (can use half and half for regular mashed potatoes but with all the cheese it gets rich)
1 lb. smoked gouda cheese, grated
3 T. salt, divided + more to taste
Place potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan and cover with cold water.
Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
While they cook, in a saucepan place the milk, butter and 2 T. salt. Heat until simmering, then add shredded cheese and stir until combined – the cheese doesn’t have to melt you just want to add it to the potatoes warm. (You can also do this step in the microwave in a glass bowl.)
Return the potatoes to the pan and sprinkle 2 tsp. salt over them, then pour in the heated milk, butter, and cheese mixture.
Mash the potatoes, stirring to incorporate the seasonings.
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve warm.