Thanksgiving Round Up and Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Thanksgiving is on the early side of the month this year and it’s right around the corner! Read on for a round up of the blog’s Thanksgiving recipes and a recipe specifically aimed at relieving kitchen congestion on the big day. 

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Last year I wrote a post linking to the blog’s previous posts suitable for Thanksgiving, along with a recipe for mashed turnips. Since then I’ve added more traditional holiday recipes: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with GrapesSweet Potato Casserole, and Mashed Cauliflower. Don’t see a favorite recipe, or have an ingredient you’d like to use that isn’t featured in these lists? Try the search bar above the Archives list (scroll down on a mobile device). If you still don’t see it please drop me a line at heather(at)crossclan(dot)org and I’ll consider it for a future post.

As far as the turkey goes, slow roasting is a new option to try from the blog. This year I’m planning to spatchcock my turkey and roast it the day before Thanksgiving. I’ll post the results on the blog that night so you have an option Thanksgiving Day. Spatchcocking, or butterflying, is supposed to cut the roasting time way down and cook the bird more evenly as well. I’m picking up my turkey this week and I’ll dry brine it a couple days before cooking.

If you are hosting a holiday meal one issue you might face is where to cook all the various dishes you want to serve, or even just keep warm till the meal. For instance, we have an open galley kitchen; it’s pretty small as far as cabinet, counter, and appliance space. We do not have room to roast a turkey and also cook anything else in the oven. I use an electric roaster and that is a big help.

Another way to save space is to make items ahead and reheat at serving time. What and how to make ahead depends on your kitchen set up, items you are planning to serve, and personal preference. For instance, if you plan your meal and find yourself short on stovetop space, but with plenty of oven space, make something ahead and reheat in the oven. And vice versa. However, if you are like our family and are going to come up short with both oven and stovetop space, use an electric cooker such as a roaster or slow cooker. Our roaster also has options to bake loaves of bread or keep individual serving dishes warm.

Mashed potatoes are an excellent choice for making ahead, partly because there are so many ways to do it. From starting and ending with the slow cooker, to making fairly traditional mashed potatoes to reheat in the oven, or a hybrid of the two, pick the method that suits your situation.

Originally I thought of leftover mashed potatoes as only fit for potato cakes (which are a great dish, but not terribly convenient for a large meal). I wondered what it would take to make mashed potatoes fit to heat and serve. Turns out it’s mostly lots of fat: butter, cream, and cream cheese, or possibly sour cream. Besides being yummy these ingredients also keep the potatoes from drying out in the reheating process.

I added slow sauteed onions and celery, an idea from The More with Less Cookbook’s recipe, Potato Filling. That recipe includes egg and breadcrumbs, things that I was not interested in having in my mashed potatoes this time. An egg or two gives a nice poofy texture to the finished dish but eggs are scarce at the market this time of year and I prefer to use them elsewhere.

When making the mashed potatoes be sure not to over mash them since you will be be stirring in lots of extra ingredients. Otherwise, make the texture to your taste: lumpy, smooth, or somewhere in between. I used a regular hand masher and a wooden spoon, while Jeffrey’s preferred method is to use a mixer. Butter your dish of choice, such as Grandma’s slow cooker or vintage pyrex. Once you’ve added all the ingredients per the recipe, cover and refrigerate, up to a few days before reheating. Take your potatoes out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before heating, and up to several hours for a crock. Add a few pats of butter on top, cover or not cover (see below) and heat.

 Photos by  Zachary Cross

Photos by Zachary Cross

  tried heating both in the oven and in the slow cooker. The crockpot took much longer, but when oven space is at a premium, or if you need to transport your dish and keep it warm, the longer time is worth it. As far as taste goes they were both good. I left the oven version uncovered to try it out with a browned crust and that was our favorite. You may notice that I have the potatoes in a bowl in my crock pot. Although I used a lot of potatoes, once mashed they did not fill the crock pot. I was concerned that they might not be visible so I used the bowl to hold them and raise them up. I did not find this made much of a change in the time I expected them to take. I put boiling water in the bottom of my crock; some sources recommend not running a crock dry. I cooked on high and the potatoes took about two hours to heat thoroughly. I did not stir the potatoes as I figured that would be best for the texture. I also figured I would forget on a busy day such as Thanksgiving anyway. Many recipes I’ve seen say three hours on low with stirring.  When it comes time to cover Grandma’s dishes to go back in the fridge, don’t use plastic wrap! Cheri Miller sells lovely beeswax/cloth wraps that mold to the shape of many sizes of bowls.  Super Bee ,  Bees Wrap , and  My Plastic Free Life  all have more information on these wraps.

tried heating both in the oven and in the slow cooker. The crockpot took much longer, but when oven space is at a premium, or if you need to transport your dish and keep it warm, the longer time is worth it. As far as taste goes they were both good. I left the oven version uncovered to try it out with a browned crust and that was our favorite. You may notice that I have the potatoes in a bowl in my crock pot. Although I used a lot of potatoes, once mashed they did not fill the crock pot. I was concerned that they might not be visible so I used the bowl to hold them and raise them up. I did not find this made much of a change in the time I expected them to take. I put boiling water in the bottom of my crock; some sources recommend not running a crock dry. I cooked on high and the potatoes took about two hours to heat thoroughly. I did not stir the potatoes as I figured that would be best for the texture. I also figured I would forget on a busy day such as Thanksgiving anyway. Many recipes I’ve seen say three hours on low with stirring.

When it comes time to cover Grandma’s dishes to go back in the fridge, don’t use plastic wrap! Cheri Miller sells lovely beeswax/cloth wraps that mold to the shape of many sizes of bowls. Super BeeBees Wrap, and My Plastic Free Life all have more information on these wraps.

beeswaxwrap.jpeg

Remember to shop at the market on Tuesday, not Wednesday, Thanksgiving week and have a happy holiday!

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Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Serves 10-12 as a side

Ingredients:
1 med-large onion
2 stalks celery
¼ cup butter
5 lbs of your favorite potatoes (mine are Yukon Gold), peeled or not
½ cup butter, melted or softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¾ cup cream, warmed
Salt and pepper to taste
Pats of even more butter, for topping
Herbs such as chives for serving
 

  1. Chop onion and celery finely and sauté slowly in butter. If you prefer more texture chop more coarsely. Cook until very soft but not brown.
  2. Meanwhile cook potatoes, peeled or not, in water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain very well.
  3. Return potatoes to the stove and mash as desired. Use a low heat at first to evaporate any remaining water, then turn off heat.
  4. Add ½ cup butter, cream cheese, cream, and about a teaspoon of salt, continuing to mash or stir.
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  6. If potatoes seem at all dry add more butter or cream.
  7. Fill buttered dish of choice with potatoes, smooth, cover, and refrigerate.
  8. The day you want to serve, take the dish out of the fridge early! Allow for a minimum of one hour of bringing to room temperature and warming, and up to several hours, depending on dish and method of choice.
  9. Pat with more butter as desired. Cover or not as desired.
  10. Warm in oven 30-40 minutes, 300°-350° F (choose based on other dishes that are cooking and/or your desired serving time). Warm in a slow cooker at least 3 hours on low, 1 ½ hours on high. Stirring occasionally will reduce cooking time.
  11. Enjoy!


Printable recipe here 

Heather Cross