The first Thanksgiving that my brother attended with his new wife was a great occasion. They live in Oregon, and although she had visited our immediate family in Houston before, she had never made a trip to the family farm. Not to mention, there was a whole slew of cousins and distant connections that were going to meet her for the first time. We were all delighted to get to know her better.
Now, our family's Thanksgiving is a group effort, with each contributing at least one beloved dish. For example, one uncle makes dressing, while another cooks his signature Sweet potato pie. A cousin whips a Cheese ball, and I am often on cranberry duty. It makes the meal even more enjoyable when everyone brings something to the table.
When we discussed what we were going to prepare for that year's meal, my sister-in-law offered to take on the mashed potato duty. Like many families, mashed potatoes have long been a Thanksgiving standard for us, with each member adding their own flair.
For example, my mom makes hers with lots of butter and garlic, which makes for a tasty and rich concoction. For mine, I take his basic recipe and include roasted peppers, such as poblano and jalapeños, which give the potatoes a touch of potency. So I was curious to see what my sister-in-law would do with hers.
On the day of the party, we all piled into my grandmother's kitchen. As I stirred the cranberry salsa on the stove, I glanced over at my brother's wife as she worked. She mashed the potatoes then added the usual amounts of salt, pepper and butter. But then she took an unusual turn and poured buttermilk into the bowl. I had never seen it done this way before and I was intrigued.
While I was wondering if the mashed potatoes would taste weird, the buttermilk added a welcome contrast to the heavier notes instead. The potatoes were lighter and softer while still managing to be creamy. We all decided the addition of buttermilk was a great addition, as was my sister in law for our extended family.
Taking his example, the next time I made my mashed potatoes, I made my usual mixture of garlic and poblano. But following the example of my sister-in-law, I replaced part of the half and a half with buttermilk. Indeed, this poblano mashed potatoes is tangy, satisfying and creamy and goes perfectly with any meal. And with the inspiration coming from my mother and my sister-in-law, it's also a real family affair.
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Poblano mashed potatoes
- 2 poblano peppers
- 3 pound sterling (about 4) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- black pepper
- 8 soup spoons Unsalted butter
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 Chopped off half half
- 1/4 Chopped off Buttermilk
First, roast the poblanos under the broiler until they are black on both sides, about 10 to 12 minutes, turning once. Once charred, place the peppers in a paper or plastic bag, seal it tightly, and let the peppers steam for 20 minutes. Once the peppers are steamed, remove them from the bag and rub the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and cut them into small cubes.
Meanwhile, to make the mashed potatoes, place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with 1 inch of water, add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the water comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the potatoes are fork tender (make sure not to overcook), about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and rinse, then lightly salt and pepper the potatoes.
Wipe out the pan, add the butter and melt it over low heat. Add the garlic and, stirring, cook until fragrant and softened about 30 seconds. Put out the fire. Return the potatoes to the pot and with a masher, mash the potatoes until smooth.
Add half and half and buttermilk and stir until well combined and creamy. (I leave off the heat to keep the potatoes from scorching on the bottom, but if you find they aren't hot enough, use a low heat but keep stirring to keep them from sticking.) Stir in them. chilies, then taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
If you want it to be hotter, add a jalapeño pepper when roasting, then peel, seed and dice it like poblano peppers.
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