Refresh Your Thanksgiving Menu with these Amazing Southern Mashed Potatoes
By Laura Fuentes
I ate two full plates of my friend Stephanie’s Southern mashed potatoes once, and they’ve been a staple of our holiday menu ever since (and after I successfully begged for the recipe).
Indulgent? Sure. It's the holidays! For many, this time of year means eating more sweets than normal. For me, it means allowing myself to eat a plate (or two) of these deliciously creamy mashed potatoes.
The holidays can also be tough for people with digestive issues. I asked Stephanie how she balances these mashed potatoes with her own dairy intolerance. Her answer? She keeps LACTAID® Fast Act chewables in her kitchen to help make it easier for her to digest foods with dairy. “Because you never know when you have to be prepared for the unexpected” she said.
I feel Stephanie’s pain: My youngest eats mostly dairy free since he turned one and my mother is lactose intolerant, so cooking meals my family can enjoy is something I’m very familiar with. But with the right preparation and the right supplies on hand – and especially for special occasions like the holidays – we still enjoy our meals and indulge ourselves once in a while.
Hence these incredibly tasty Southern mashed potatoes. They are quite rich, since they are made with butter, half-and-half, and cream cheese; but they never disappoint when entertaining.
And when it comes to preparing, the key is to start early.
Mashed potatoes tend to be a labor intensive side dish, but for a few years now I've washed, peeled and chopped them days ahead of cooking and stored them in the fridge in a large bowl covered with water. This way they don’t brown while waiting to be cooked and this tip eliminates a lot of work before the cook-a-thon days prior to the big meal.
Of course, you can make this recipe two days before you need it and then warm it in the oven before serving. Doing this has made a big difference in my celebrations. One of the things I enjoy most about this side dish, besides eating it, is "taste testing" the mashed potatoes to check if they need a little bit more salt. Do you do this?
I remember four years ago, while 8 months pregnant with my third child, being in front of the stove "testing" these mashed potatoes. My husband still talks about "that one time I ate half the pot of mashed potatoes before Thanksgiving" - what can I say, I have my weaknesses. For some it's chocolate, for me, it's creamy mashed potatoes.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, grated
5 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
3/4 cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup to 3/4 Cups Half-and-Half, warmed prior to using in recipe
1/2 teaspoon salt
chives, finely chopped for serving
- Wash, peel, and cut potatoes into similar sized pieces. Bring a large pot of water to a slow boil, add potatoes, add salt, and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes for 25-30 minutes (will vary by size), until they are soft enough for a fork to slide through and easily break through the potato.
- Meanwhile, on a large pan over medium high heat, heat up oil. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds, until it begins to soften and is fragrant. Add the onions, and cook until soft and translucent, for about 7 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Drain the potatoes in a large colander. Once drained, transfer them back into the large pot. Over low heat, begin mashing the potatoes, add the sautéed onions and garlic and continue mashing allowing the steam to escape. Turn off heat and add butter, cream cheese, ½ cup of warmed half and half, and salt. Add additional half and half if necessary and mix through until the cream cheese has melted.
- Transfer hot potatoes to an oven proof serving dish and keep them in the oven if not using up immediately. Garnish with chives.
Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.
Another version of these potatoes that Stephanie recommends is to brown some bacon in the pan before sautéing the onions and using the bacon fat to cook down the onions. If you want to go that route, I recommend having some PEPCID COMPLETE® on hand for after your meal to treat the heartburn caused by acid indigestion from “indulgence-overload,” as Stephanie likes to call it. Of course, I do think bacon makes things better, so there is that.
As you can imagine, we typically go for a long walk around our neighborhood after this big meal; the kids ride their bikes, and it gives us the opportunity to walk down these mashed potatoes while having terrific conversations.
Laura Fuentes is a paid spokesperson for HEALTHY ESSENTIALS®