Good old mashed potatoes. Straight forward. Easy to prepare. And, most of all, filling. This last one is important if you have picky eater children (I speak from experience).
But, how about if we fancied-up those potatoes to make them company worthy? What would happen if we added bleu cheese, a little thyme, and topped with port infused sautéed onions? A brilliant side dish, that’s what!
BLEU CHEESE MASHED POTATOES – makes about 3 cups
- 1½ lbs russet potatoes
- 3/4 tsp vegetable oil
- 3/4 tsp butter
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1/4 tsp brown sugar, packed (it’s not much, but aids caramelization)
- 1/2 lb yellow onions
- 2½ T ruby port (or any sweet red wine such as Masala)
- 3 T butter, melted
- 6 T half & half
- 1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/3 tsp dried)
- 2 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Place whole potatoes (with skin intact) in a saucepan and cover with 1″ water. Bring to simmer and cook until easily pierced with fork – about 35 minutes.
While potatoes are cooking, prepare the onions. Cut onions into 1/4″ slices. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil and butter over high heat. Add in 1/8 tsp salt, brown sugar, and onions. Sauté 5 minutes – until they start to lose volume and become a little browned. Decrease heat to medium and continue cooking until well browned (about 20 minutes or so). Add in the port and letter simmer for 5 minutes to evaporate the liquid. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm half & half and thyme just to the simmer point. Cover and set aside.
When potatoes are cooked, remove from water and peel. (They’re very hot so you might want to use a fork to hold them in place, while peeling with a knife.) For best mashing results, use a ricer or food mill. Gently fold in melted butter. Add in half & half, bleu cheese, remaining salt, and pepper. Very gently blend together. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
To serve, top with onions.