One of the most important side dishes on the holiday table is the humble potato. Whether it’s au gratin, baked, roasted, or mashed, everyone loves potatoes, and we all have our favorites. My favorite is the old standby mashed potatoes, and this year I want to elevate the old recipe with some of my favorite additions; browned butter, butter-fried fresh sage and thyme, and most importantly, a hint of black truffles.
Now, truffles can be polarizing; while some will love the deep earthy flavors, others may perceive them as pungent. The secret is to use them in moderation and to know your audience. For the slightly more advanced palate, nothing compares to the rich flavor of truffles; and though they can be quite expensive, it only takes a pinch or two to transform an entire dish. Truffles have an intensely earthy nature which naturally pairs with root vegetables of all sorts. Potatoes are a natural, but other root vegetables such as parsnips, celeriac, carrots, yams, beets, onions, shallots, garlic, and even fennel are all even more delicious with a dose of truffles.
Every year in Chicago during the late fall to early winter, when truffles are in season, Chicago restaurants begin rolling out their holiday menus featuring black winter truffles, which some chefs refer to as “the diamond of the kitchen” for their transformational ability. Although a top-grade whole truffle can easily cost $95 per ounce, very few home kitchens could justify or make use of such an investment. For the rest of us looking for prime grade truffle flavor, the Truffleist offers pure, prime-grade truffle salts, honey, and oils, which bring the flavor of fresh truffles to your kitchen.
For this mashed potatoes recipe, I’ll be using black truffle-laced French sea salt by the Truffleist. A 4oz. jar lasts a long time and is the perfect finishing salt for all kinds of dishes, especially a juicy steak.
Mashed Potatoes with Sage-Infused Brown Butter, Fresh Thyme, Black Truffle Salt
4lbs Yukon gold potatoes, washed
1 1/2 T Truffleist sea salt (potatoes need a lot of salt; don’t be afraid to go heavy, this will bring out their buttery flavor).
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and an additional 2T for topping.
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
8-12 fresh sage leaves, plus some for garnish
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems, plus some for garnish
1/2 t freshly ground coarse black or white peppercorns
Pinch of additional sea salt, to taste
In a stockpot, cover potatoes with cold water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a vigorous boil and cook until soft, 18-20 minutes. In a saucepan, add the stick of butter and fresh sage, melting over medium heat. When the butter starts to become foamy, start whisking and watch for browning. Browned butter can easily go too far and become bitter, so watch carefully for the color to change to golden, then remove from heat and discard sage leaves. When potatoes are done, drain and return to stockpot. Using a potato masher, mash thoroughly while slowly incorporating milk. Once smooth, add the sage-infused brown butter, roasted garlic cloves (see preparation, below), Truffleist sea salt, and black or white pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in thyme leaves. Top with remaining butter, thyme, and sage leaves and crown with a few pinches of truffle salt. Serve immediately.
1 large, fresh head of garlic
2 T Olive oil
Preheat oven to 400’F
To roast the garlic:
Peel off the papery outer layer, leaving the whole bulb intact. With a sharp knife, trim approximately 1/2” from the top of the cloves, exposing all of their interiors. Don’t take off too much. Wrap bottom half of bulb in aluminum foil, leaving the top exposed. Drizzle generously with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Close the foil uptight and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and soft when pressed. Cool and remove cloves from skins by gently squeezing each one out. An entire head should be the right amount for the batch of potatoes, but feel free to add and taste as you go.
Truffliest Black Truffle Salt
Emile Henry Garlic Pot (Color featured in Flour)
Mauviel 250c Copper Stainless Steel Splayed Saute Pan
Mauviel 150s Copper and Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid
Emile Henry Mixing Bowl Small (color featured in Flour)
Emile Henry Mixing Bowl Medium (color featured in Flour)
John Boos Walnut Fusion Cutting Board with Contoured Feet (20” x 15”)