Dress up your holiday side dishes with Caramelized Shallot and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. Elegant and indulgent!
I could make an entire meal out of mashed potatoes. Is there any side dish more warming during the winter months? The mere sight of buttery potatoes on the table instantly comforts; rich gravy pooling into the valleys of each pillowy scoop. They’re the dinner equivalent of a hot fudge sundae. We make mashed potatoes so often that when the time comes for a holiday dinner, I like to dress them up a bit for something extra-special. Caramelized Shallot and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes are one of my favorite ways to do this. The contrast of sweet, caramelized shallots against sharp Vermont white cheddar, and a hint of fresh thyme brings a traditional mashed Yukon gold potato base to the next level. These potatoes are elegant, flavorful, and totally holiday-worthy. In other words: break out your stretchy pants, folks! The season of indulgent treats is upon us.
Most of the time, Yukon Gold is my potato of choice for mashing or whipping. Their starch content gives them a fluffy texture, with the added benefit of an innately buttery flavor. I like to use a potato ricer to achieve a smooth and uniform texture. (Check out this post from Fine Cooking for a review of ricers versus mashers.) A hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (medium speed, no higher) are also good options for smooth and creamy potatoes. Don’t use mixers at aggressive speeds, or a food processor, or you’ll risk ending up with a gluey potato paste. If you prefer a more rustic texture, a traditional masher is easily used to mash the potatoes to your desired consistency. I like the delicate flavor of caramelized shallots here, but onions can be easily substituted. The shallots can be caramelized a few days in advance, stored in the refrigerator, and re-warmed before folding into the mashed potatoes. Lastly, I recommend going for an extra-sharp white cheddar so the flavor of the cheese can best shine through in the background.
When I reflect on things I’m thankful for, it feels apropos that Striped Spatula’s third “blogoversary” happens to fall on Thanksgiving this year. I’m planning to check in with a celebratory post and recipe mid-week, but how grateful I am for my readers bears repeating. I have the most fun job I could possibly imagine, and it wouldn’t be possible without all of you reading my posts and allowing me to share my love of cooking with you (and, in turn, you with me). I wish you a Heartfelt and Happy Thanksgiving, from my family and kitchen, to yours.
More holiday side dish ideas:
Parmesan Duchess Potatoes
Delicata Squash with Brown Butter Vinaigrette
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Praline Topping
Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing
Apple Orange Cranberry Sauce
Caramelized Shallot and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
- 5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 4 large shallots, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices (about 2 cups)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (1 stick)
- 1 cup half and half, warmed
- 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet until foaming subsides. Add shallots and a pinch of kosher salt, and cook over medium-high heat until shallots have begun to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, stirring often, until shallots are soft and brown, about 25 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1 tablespoon water, scraping up brown bits from bottom and sides of the pan, and stir for an additional minute to allow the water to evaporate. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place prepped potatoes in a large pot and add enough cool water to cover by 1-inch. Add a pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are soft and a knife can be inserted into the center of the wedges easily. Drain potatoes into a colander.
While potatoes are cooking, melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter. Mash drained potatoes to desired consistency (using a hand masher, potato ricer, food mill, or a mixer; I use a ricer for ultra-smooth potatoes). Stir in melted butter, shredded cheddar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Add enough warmed half and half to reach your desired texture (I almost always use the full cup). Fold in caramelized shallots and thyme, and season to taste with additional salt and pepper.