Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Cooking: Day 2, Part 2

Crack Potatoes. A holiday must.

(Check out my December column in Connotation Press to learn more about my obsession with Crack Potatoes.)

And as much as I love Crack Potatoes, I love gravy. Because my family is doing a ham, we're sans gravy this year.

So to ensure creaminess and flavor without gravy, I put a twist on the traditional Crack Potatoes recipe with the help of Cook's Illustrated Entertaining Issue 2009.

What I love about Crack Potatoes is you can make them ahead-of-time and they're another easy-to-transport dish.

Ingredients for Topping:
4 slices white bread (I used Zingerman's Bakerhouse White)
2 T butter, melted
1/4 c fresh parsley
salt & pepper

Directions for Topping:

Heat over to 300. Quarter each piece of bread and then pulse in food processor to course crumbs. Toss crumbs with melted butter and spread on baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 20 minutes. Let crumbs cool, then toss with parsley, salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Potatoes:
5 lbs potatoes, peeled, sliced into 3/4 inch thick rounds, and rinse thoroughly. (I used a mix of our local French Fingerlings, All Red, and Carola potatoes.)
2 1/2 c 2% milk, warmed
1 c sour cream
8 T butter, melted
2 1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 med garlic clove, minced
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
8 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Bring potatoes to boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat, then add milk and garlic. Stir until warm.

Drain potatoes in colander. In batches mash potatoes. (You can use a ricer, but this time I used my stand-mixer to save time.) Stir in milk mixture, sour cream, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. (The potatoes may seem really "wet," but don't fret. Keep stirring; they will thicken.)

Pour potatoes into 13X9 baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top then breadcrumbs.

To cook immediately: Heat oven to 350, bake uncovered, until hot throughout, 25-30 minutes.

To make ahead (up to 2 days ahead): Wrap casserole in plastic. To cook, unwrap plastic and top with foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350, covered. Remove foil, bake until topping is crisp, 20-30 minutes more.

--I'm dying to see how this Crack Potatoes recipe turns out. I'll keep you posted.

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