I have a weak spot for mashed potatoes. They’re so warm and comforting and just seem to accompany almost every winter meal perfectly. When I’m serving a holiday dinner, such as the Beef Tenderloin I shared with you a few days ago, I like to dress up my mashed potatoes a bit. Parmesan Duchess Potatoes are one of my favorite ways to bring a little extra elegance to my holiday table. Fluffy and creamy inside with a buttery, crispy exterior, these pretty, individually-piped potato puffs are a wonderful (and easy) way to refresh an old favorite for your holiday dinner guests.
Duchess Potatoes are a French dish combining mashed potatoes with egg yolks, butter, and seasonings. Once mixed, the potatoes are piped into individual servings and baked until hot and golden. For this recipe, I’ve added grated Parmesan cheese for an extra layer of flavor. (I’ve made them in the past with other cheeses, such as Gruyère, and using Dubliner as the topping for my Stout-Braised Short Rib Cottage Pie.) A pinch of nutmeg is traditional to the recipe, giving the potatoes a tiny hint of warmth that plays especially well with the nutty Parmesan cheese.
Since the potatoes will be piped, it’s important that the mixture be as smooth as possible. This is the perfect recipe to pull out your food mill or potato ricer. (If using a hand masher, just be sure to mash the potato chunks as evenly as possible.) When mixing, you’ll notice that the potatoes are quite a bit stiffer than most mashed potato recipes. It’s important that the potatoes not be too loose, or they’ll spread too much and lose their shape in the oven. I’ve had the most success making these Parmesan Duchess Potatoes (and any Duchess Potato recipe, for that matter) with Yukon Gold potatoes. Their natural texture has always created the prettiest ridges and held their shape the best of all potato varieties I’ve tried.
Presented in individual “puffs,” Parmesan Duchess Potatoes make an especially beautiful presentation, without a lot of extra effort from the busy holiday cook. They can even can be prepped and piped a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Using a large star piping tip will create decorative ridges and valleys that will crisp in the oven, providing a nice textural contrast with the rich, buttery centers. If you don’t have a pastry bag and piping tip, worry not! You can also spoon the potatoes onto the baking sheet and create decorative swirls with the tines of a fork. Any way you present them, Parmesan Duchess Potatoes are sure to be an impressive and elegant addition to any holiday feast!
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