Mashed potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods, and it's not hard to make them taste amazing. The easy way, my friends, is fat. A lot of it. I used to work at a restaurant where the cooks dropped a brick of cream cheese, a long swig of cream, and unmentionable amounts of butter into the joint's famous smashed potatoes. So there's that approach.
But I like to taste the potatoes themselves, and to pump them up in fresh ways, so this year on Thanksgiving I am turning to this recipe — golden mashed potatoes with a secret ingredient to give them flavor and unexpected color.
The secret ingredient? Rutabaga. No, not duck fat or truffle salt or creme fraiche or another luxury cheat. The humble, inexpensive rutabaga is the best singalong partner for the potatoes we all love. I've already argued at length for why I think rutabaga always deserves a chance, and perhaps Thanksgiving can be your gateway to rutabaga nirvana.
Rutabaga is a hefty cannonball of a vegetable with an intimidating exterior but a surprisingly easy-to-peel skin. It tastes a little fuller and richer than potatoes, with a lovely golden color that appears when it is cooked. I mix one part rutabaga to two parts potatoes, and you still get the deliciousness of the mashed potatoes, along with a richer flavor and golden hue. I like to leave some small pieces of golden rutabaga whole as I mash the potatoes, but you can also cream them in completely.
And yes, yes, I know it's Thanksgiving, so we won't skimp on the dairy. There's plenty of butter, a tipple of cream, and some sour cream for tanginess. But that's just because it's a holiday. If you want to indulge on another day, the butter and cream can be halved.
The result is a creamy dish of potatoes that look as rich as they taste.
Cut the potatoes into large chunks — quarters or sixths. Cut up the rutabaga, but cut into smaller pieces than the potatoes; the rutabaga chunks should be about half the size of the potato chunks.
Place a steamer insert in a large pot and add water. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes, rutabaga, and garlic. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover, lower the heat, and steam for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.
Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large bowl and mash with a masher or a ricer. Warm the cream and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted, then slowly pour into the mashed vegetables, stirring with a wooden spoon. (You can also mash the potatoes with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, and add the cream with the mixer running. Set the mixer to low; you don't want to over-mix and make the potatoes gluey.)
Stir in the sour cream. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Sprinkle lightly with paprika to garnish.
To Keep Mashed Potatoes Warm in a Slow Cooker: If not serving immediately, butter the insert of a large slow cooker. Pour a little cream into the bottom of the slow cooker and turn on to LOW. Transfer the potatoes to the slow cooker and cover. Stir every half hour. The potatoes can be kept safely and well in the slow cooker for up to 4 hours.