Monday, March 22, 2010

I like me some garlic.

I've discovered an amazing new way to make mashed potatoes. I've also discovered I need to save it for the holidays.

Last night, Ian and I made the most beautiful pork chops I've ever seen, thanks to Julia Child. I'd only ever seen that kind of color on pork in the movies or on Food Network. It came with a lovely sauce (basically just vermouth, deglazing the pork pan--plus I added some heavy cream at the end because I'm super indulgent). Alongside that, we made garlic mashed potatoes, but not just any garlic mashed potatoes--puree de pommes de terre a l'ail (which is to say garlic mashed potatoes in French).

Now, I realize that garlic mash is fairly mundane. It comes with pretty much any steak you've ever ordered, maybe the pork chops too, and even chicken at some restaurants. It's one of those dishes that kitchens stock in giant metal containers, waiting under a heat lamp to be slopped onto the customer's plate. It's low maintenance. But that garlic mash isn't this garlic mash.

Julia's potatoes start interestingly enough--you separate the cloves of garlic from two whole heads, toss them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and then peel them. This is the one process in the recipe I would change--I would try, next time, simply peeling them as I normally do (smash with knife, peel) and then move to the next step: saute in butter. You see, Julia says, "Two whole heads of garlic will seem like a horrifying amount if you have not made this type of recipe before. But if less is used, you will regret it, for the long cooking of the garlic removes all of its harsh strength, leaving just a pleasant flavor." Amen, Julia. But--boiling it might take out too much of the harsh strength for my taste. I like me some garlic.

Back to the process--after you saute the garlic cloves in butter until they are tender but not brown, you make a thin roux with some flour, salt, and pepper, then pour in a cup of boiling milk (I used nonfat and it still turned out deliciously--I can't imagine the delight of the full-fat result) and make a white sauce, which then goes into the blender (or you can painstakingly mash the garlic cloves with a sieve and a wooden spoon--I went with the blender). What comes out, and quickly too, is a delightful garlic white sauce that you then stir into the potatoes that have been boiled, run through the food mill, and thinned with some butter and heavy cream. It has the perfect, velvety texture that is so difficult to find in mashed potatoes and absolutely no lumps (thank you, food mill), plus the lovely garlicky taste (which I would be willing to ramp up even more). All in all, the best mashed potatoes ever. Incredibly fattening, but still, best ever. This might become a Christmas dish.

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