I was told a while ago: ‘Every dish tells a story.‘ At the same time, food is meant to be savored with every bite. Since leaving the FoodBuzz event last week, I have had more desire to achieve more than I had since starting this blog. Joy’s been an incredible inspiration for my cooking and I hope that this is a trend that continues.
Upon my return to the office, there was a flier posted next to the time clock, “Holiday Potluck!’ So I figure, Cool! I’ll make something simple, easy, and enjoyable. My first thought was a simple garlic mashed potato dish. A few days after that posting, the HR manager asked me what I was making for the potluck because she knew about our little journal from previous discussions.
“I’m going to keep it simple, garlic mashed, I think.”
“What? Don’t be boring! I’ve seen the stuff you guys make! Give us something more gourmet!”
A challenge, huh? I was game. So a few more nights passed, then it hit me. Of all the things of a Thanksgiving meal, there is not much that is not considered ‘comfort food’. Then I started thinking about the various comfort foods of a meal that could not only serve 30 people, but have the flavor and memories that follow with each taste.
I would stick with the potato idea. I browsed various sites for perfect dishes but nothing was out of the ordinary. Then it hit me. Crème fraîche Loaded Whipped Mashed Potatoes! Yeah, try saying that to your guests at your next dinner party when you make this dish.
So, I decided I would not have a toungue twister and simplify it to “Gourmet Loaded Potatoes“. It is a relatively simple dish, but its attention is needed. If you stick with it, you’ll have an incredibly tasty, rich, and flavorful new spin on the potato.
I took this challenge head-on and I am proud of the results. I got rave reviews at the pot luck and I look forward to serving this dish again soon.
Ingredients [Serves about 30, as a side dish]
- 10 lbs of Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 lb of thinly sliced pancetta
- 1 ½ cup of heavy cream, with extra just in case
- 1 7.5 oz package of crème fraîche
- 1 3-ounce package of cream cheese
- 6 tablespoons of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup diced fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon salt (seasoned salt preferred)
- Large bowl or strainer for holding the cooked potatoes
- Electric mixer
1. Prepare the potatoes by submerging them in cold water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add salt to the water and bring the pot to a boil uncovered. When you get to a rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. At the end of the 10 minutes, try piercing a potato with a fork. If it goes straight through, it’s done. If not, cook another 4-5 minutes and check again.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan in medium heat and cook the pancetta. You’re looking for a total crisp, nothing undercooked or limp. This cooking time will change depending on your pan, heat, and if you used any oil to help cook. Remove from the heat and pat dry any excess oil or grease with a paper towel.
3. Drain the potatoes from the pot completely and set them aside. Put the pot back onto the stove.
4. Add ingredients into the pot in this order: butter, crème fraîche, cream cheese, heavy cream. Grab the cooked pancetta and crumble it as much as possible. Then add the potatoes back into the pot. By the time the potatoes get into the pot, the butter should be completely melted and the cream cheese should as well.
5. Add the pepper, chives, cheddar, and the remaining salt.
6. Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer starting with the lowest speed and progressively working to medium, about 5 minutes. When everything is well mixed, check the consistency. If it’s not whipped and/or enough, add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and continue mixing for another minute. Serve warm and enjoy!