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Don’t Try Those Reinvented Mashed Potatoes For Thanksgiving. Use This No-Fail Classic


The coalition of forces that hate America realize that destroying one of our most treasured holidays is an excellent way to demoralize our people and hasten our collapse. The Huffington Post suggested in a delightfully festive post titled “The Environmental Impact Of Your Thanksgiving Dinner” that to avoid propelling the world toward climate doomsday, we eliminate visiting family on the holidays.

In this scheme, anti-patriots have seemingly seduced Bon Appétit magazine into a series of videos (some with 2.2 million-page views so far) presenting what the magazine calls “The Perfect Thanksgiving.” It might be the perfect Turkey Day, if you were to find yourself at “Pierre Delecto’s” house this November 28; or if you prefer rugby or polo to the NFL, or instantly translate U.S. road signs into their metric equivalents. Otherwise, Bon Appétit has prepared a recipe for disappointment. Case in point, their mashed potatoes.

To mislead America about this seminal national dish, the magazine with an enormous and often clever online presence, headed by the inimitable Brad Leone, chose two of their most bubbly and engaging culinary avatars, Molly Baz and Carla Music. Together, with a Greek chorus of whiny millennials looking on, they lead us through a series of steps that produces something between a potato soup and a potato sauce designed to run all off your plate and onto the floor. Tests also included crumbled potato chips and techniques that caused video commenters to demand a redo.

It’s not a very hard dish and certainly shouldn’t include anything produced by Lays. Look, our belief is, if you can’t make a pretty convincing scale replica of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming out of your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, you are using the wrong recipe.

What’s a right recipe? Well, we always use Julia Child’s garlic mashed potatoes presented in her trusty and timeless “Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1” from 1961. It’s a tasty recipe that captures the essence of what mashed potatoes on the Thanksgiving table really should be: savory, without chunks, highly absorbent of gravy, shapeable, and fork-friendly. Saveur published this easy to follow version in 2014, which we use every year.

As a family that takes holiday meal preparation quite seriously, Julia’s was not the only recipe or process that we have tried. But it is the best and, quite simply, Thanksgiving calls for potatoes that fill your home with nostalgia and your bellies with delicious, no-fail, perfectly fluffy potatoes. The regimen of sticking to a recipe also prevents over-zealous hands from pouring too much cream into the pot or forgetting if you’d already added butter or salt.

Thanksgiving has proven to our family that adding extra or somehow sophisticated ingredients to the potatoes is always a bit of a disappointment when the dish is passed around the table. Each year festive culinary magazines try to reinvent the wheel and add different, colorful meats and vegetables to the dish, but they simply don’t belong there on the most classic of American feasting holidays.

While simple, Child’s recipe is also quite tasty. Julia’s formula for the perfect American dish includes 30 cloves of garlic, and feeds the army of friends and family that should surround you on our country’s glorious day of thanks. It’s accessible to those with limited kitchen know-how, and cannot be consumed through a straw like Bon Appétits.

While few improvements can be made to this classic recipe, our family has found over the years that Yukon Gold potatoes are the inarguably best potatoes to mash instead of the Russets in Julia’s recipe. Yukon Gold potatoes were not widely available until 20 years after Julia’s recipe was published. You can’t easily over-cook potatoes meant for mashing, but they can be undercooked so make sure they are easily split with a fork before mixing and use room-temperature, real butter.

Of course, preparation is much easier with a formidable stand mixer such as a Kitchen Aid model, but the beauty of mashed potatoes as an American staple is that they can also be made easily with an electric hand mixer or even a good old-fashioned potato masher. Should you have access to the two latter tools, mix the potatoes on the stove on low heat while mixing in the cream and butter.

Truly, every kitchen in America can enjoy the splendor of this magnificent dish. Use the cream quantity called for as a guide rather than a rule. Add enough to achieve the consistency you want but do not substitute milk. Also, don’t skimp on the garlic. Even generally less seasoned recipes from America’s Test Kitchen call for 22 cloves in their version of this classic.

If cooking for the immediate family, we often do not bother to peel the potatoes. However, for the Thanksgiving table, we recommend doing so. Peeling is a chore that annoying relative can do.

This Thanksgiving, stand up for America, visit your loved ones, and make the biggest carbon footprint you have to in order to be near them. And for heaven’s sake, make mashed potatoes great again and don’t fall for the un-American liquefied potatoes in the popular internet video. Demand solid food.

P.S. Also contra-Bon Appétit, generously salt, but do not brine, your turkey. This is a useless affectation, maker of huge kitchen messes, and waste of time. Slather the bird with as much butter as you can stick to it, and don’t forget to baste.