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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nana's creamed potatoes

A little less than a year ago my cousin had a handsome little baby boy.  He was premature and spent about 12 weeks in the hospital.  When J and her husband finally got to bring their little bundle home everyone pitched in and brought over dinner for a couple of weeks to help out.

This summer J and I took the kids and walked the 2 1/4 mile track at a nearby park in the mornings and we got to talk a lot.  We grew up together and used to be very close, but as we grew up we were in different social circles, different classes in school, and since we started driving we didn't ride the bus to Nana's house in the afternoons anymore.  Walking together was so nice because we really got to reconnect.  We talked about everything.  She told me funny stories from nursing school and I shared recipes (since that's apparently what I like to talk about).  She said that when they brought lil' P home from the hospital that Nana had brought them meatloaf one night with the best mashed potatoes she had ever had.  She said they were creamy and fluffy and just the perfect texture.  I guess you'd really call them creamed potatoes or whipped potatoes because Nana makes hers with a hand mixer instead of a potato masher.

I asked Nana the next week how she made the potatoes and she rattled off a recipe that sounded almost exactly the same as mine, but then she said something I wasn't expecting.  She said that she adds a spoonful or two of mayonnaise.  Are you kidding?  It sounds weird, right?  Am I the only one?

Okay, so I had to try these potatoes since my cousin loved them so much.  I'm a Miracle Whip girl so I actually had to make a special trip to the grocery store for mayo.  I made my potatoes the same way I always do.  (Well, I usually use a masher, but this time I used my stand mixer.)  I tasted them and they tasted pretty good.  They tasted normal, like they usually taste when I make them.  Then I added a huge spoonful of mayo to them and let it mix in.  I tasted them again and was completely blown away.  They went from tasting like boiled potatoes that were mashed up, to this creamy heavenly... there are no words to finish that sentence.  The change was absolutely amazing.  As a friend of mine says, "Socks... knocked off!"

I wanted to share this recipe with you, but I realized that it's really hard to write a recipe for mashed potatoes.  Potatoes are all different sizes so it's hard to say how many to use and also I make a very small amount of mashed potatoes when I make them because I don't really like them as leftovers.  For the two of us I usually make about 3-4 medium to small sized potatoes.  Because potatoes vary in size I also have to change the amount of each of the ingredients I add.  I don't ever really measure how much milk I add.  I just keep splashing milk in until the texture looks right.  I add salt and pepper, but I don't measure that either.  I keep tasting and adding until I like the way it tastes.  I can't really measure how much mayo I put in because I use a large spoon and just add a scoop or two.

The best measurement I can give is that you want about 3 medium sized potatoes per every 2 people.  When I cook for Aaron's parents I usually use 6-7 potatoes.

So this recipe has no measurements.  It just has a list of ingredients and some instructions.  Make enough to feed your family and I hope you enjoy them because I really love them.

Nana's Creamed Potatoes

potatoes (you could use red or gold potatoes but I like the texture of russets or Idaho potatoes for mashing)
onion powder
salt and pepper
mayonnaise (I recommend not using the mayo made with olive oil because it has a funny texture that makes the potatoes kind of sticky)

Peel the potatoes and rinse them off.

Cut the potatoes into cubes and place them in a pot.  You want a pot big enough to be able to cover the potatoes with water and a little room so the water doesn't boil over on you.

Cover the potatoes with cold water.  Put the pot over high heat and bring to a boil.  Once the pot is boiling let the potatoes cook about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes will mash easily with a fork.  Drain the potatoes and place them in the bowl of your stand mixer or in a mixing bowl about double the size of your potatoes.  (You need room to mash them without them coming out of the bowl.)   Add a couple of cloves of garlic, a sprinkle of onion powder, and a couple of tablespoons of butter.  If you're using a mixer you can turn it on low now.  Start adding milk splashes at a time.  If you're using a hand mixer or a potato masher start mashing now.  If the potatoes are too thick add some more milk but be careful not to add too much because you can't un-add it.

Once you have the right texture turn off the mixer or stop mashing and switch to a spoon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Now take a spoonful of mayo and mix it in.  Add another spoonful if you think it needs to be even creamier.

Serve warm with chicken, steak, pork chops, roast, etc...  They're also great with some gravy over them.

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