Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Friday, March 19, 2010

Killer Mashed Potatoes with Kale & Caramelized Shallots

Dear Readers,
Let's just be honest, OK, potatoes and I have a very passionate love affair. My love for potatoes is primal and unconditional. I will embrace them in any manifestation: creamy soups, gratins, mashed, baked, twice baked, stuffed, hash browns, home fries, french fries, latkes, perogis, gnocchi, potato salad, ad infinitum. I like them naked or with skins on. Dressed up or plain. For my love of potatoes, last year I grew 6 different varieties in my backyard--yellow, red, blue, white, fingerlings, early season, mid season, late season, mashers, bakers, friers. Oh my. Let's just say I'd enjoy a death by mashed potatoes.

When I make mashed potatoes I enjoy them whipped & creamy or chunky full of bits of extra stuff. This recipe is a skins on, mashed-but-chunky, with beautiful bright wilted kale. With little exception 'yukon gold' potatoes are my favorite mashers. They have an amazing taste, their color is pretty, and their flesh is perfect for mashing without being gummy like red skin potatoes can be. Typically I'd use a non-curly variety of kale, like 'lacinato' for this recipe, which is what I did for the dinner party. However yesterday the majestic purple of the curly 'red russian' kale was beckoning me. Either way, you only lightly saute the kale until it's wilted but retaining it's bright color and a slight crunch. The potatoes are flavored with sour cream & chives, garlic, and flecks of caramelized shallots. Spend the extra dollar a pound for the shallots vs regular onions and you will not be disappointed. Better yet, grow your own, it's easy. Plant them in the Autumn for harvest the following Summer. The caramelizing process takes an extra 10-30 minutes depending upon the type of onion you use and it adds another layer of complexity to the taste of the dish. Once you begin using the caramelization technique you will want to use it in everything. I promise. No joke. I'm pretty clear I just made up a new word: caramelization technique.

The feedback I received from my dinner party guinea pigs about this recipe was all positive. Folks liked the addition of the kale, enjoyed the chunks, appreciated the tang the sour cream added, and the flavors were all mild enough to mingle well together yet stand out distinctly individual. My favorite quote I scribbled in my notes: "They are non-homogeneous. I like that." Good one. Anyone who can slip homogeneous in casual conversation deserves a seat at my dinner table.

I would like you to know that I wrote this recipe typing while standing up doing leg yoga in my pajamas listening to loud Franz Ferdinand. I have the shades up and the windows open. Enjoy the show people! And, enjoy your potatoes and please drop me a comment to let me know what you think. What you think of the recipe, not what you think of my crazy writing behaviors.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Killer Mashed Potatoes with Kale & Caramelized Shallots
Makes 6-8 servings depending on your appetite!

3 pounds organic 'yukon gold' potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
sea salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, cleaned, stemmed and thinly sliced into ribbons
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk or cow milk
black pepper
16 oz light sour cream
handful of chives, chopped

1. Rinse the potatoes, half them and place in a large stock pot of water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Slightly lower heat and boil until the potatoes are soft enough to be pierced with a fork, but not turned to mush. This will take approximately 15 minutes for this amount of potatoes. When done boiling, drain, but leave a small amount of the cooking water in the pot.
2. I mash directly in the hot pot. Add the butter and soymilk (or milk) and mash. Potatoes should be mashed, but still chunky. Add sea salt & black pepper to taste. Add the sour cream and chives. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
3. In a skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of sea salt. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. You want the shallots to be soft, translucent, and slightly browning. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Continue to saute for another 15 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar. Continue to saute covered for another 5 minutes. Your shallots are now caramelized. Add them to the potatoes and stir until combined.
4. Return the skillet to the stove and increase heat to medium. Add another small splash of olive oil. Add the garlic and the kale. Cover the pan and saute over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. You want the garlic to be fragrant and the kale to have reduced in size, wilted & retaining it's color. Do not overcook the garlic and kale. Please.
5. Add the kale-garlic mixture to the potatoes and stir until combined. Serve immediately. Share with friends, or not. Later, thank your favorite aspiring cookbook author.