I still can’t believe it’s November, and that means Thanksgiving is upon us. For lots of people Thanksgiving is a relaxing holiday, you show up, play some football and you get fed all day while the hosts who have been up since 5 am frantically make sure that the food is timed perfectly and prays that someone doesn’t bring something that needs to “just be thrown in the oven.” Because your oven is overflowing, and there is no room for nonsense like that. Luckily one of my favorite holiday staples can be made the day before, and doesn’t require coveted oven real estate. Lightening the load on the host, which makes more time for drinking wine and high fiving yourself for throwing the best damn Thanksgiving ever.
Let’s get into it.
This holiday is really a celebration of starch. And the prima ballerina is the potato. Mashed potatoes are the cornerstone of any proper Thanksgiving meal, and should not disappoint. Good mashed potatoes should be light, creamy, savory, and moist, yet keep their distinct potato-ness. Sadly, we lose the natural occurring flavors in potatoes the way we prepare them these days; drowning them in cream, milk, butter, and sour cream.
I wanted to let the potato shine, without feeling heavy. To add layers of flavor I added whole herbs and smashed garlic to the cooking water to infuse the spuds with an herbaceous undertone. In the past I have added nutritional yeast flakes to potatoes to gives them a umami gusto. Just recently I was inspired by Vietnamese cuisine goddess Andrea Nguyen for using a method of steeping nutritional yeast like tea, resulting in a rich earthy gold liquid. This extracts the flavor, while leaving out the sometimes unappealing “fish food” flakes. This liquid gold is an incredibly versatile addition to potatoes. Not only does the liquid resemble clarified butter, but the color brings out an incredible golden hue in the finished mash.
The result: an unbelievably healthy side dish that’s creamy, herb-y, earthy, and buttery that still taste like potatoes. And with almost no added fat, can be something you can feel good about piling onto your plate. Break out your stretchy sweatpants my friends, it’s time to feast!
Best Herbed Mashed Potatoes
An unbelievably healthy side dish that's creamy, herb-y, earthy, buttery and all POTATO!
- 6 yukon gold potatoes
- 4 russet potatoes
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh sage about 7 leaves
- 4 cloves garlic peeled & smashed
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1.5 cups boiling water
- 1-2 Tbsp chives chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plantmilk optional
Peel the potatoes, and cut them into even sized 1-2" chunks. Rinse the potato chunks to get off any dirt from the peels. Place the potatoes , rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic in a large sauce-pot then cover with cold water.* Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes can be easily cut with a fork.
In a separate glass or jar place the nutritional yeast and boiling water. Mix around and then set aside. Wait at least 10 minutes for the yeast flakes to fall to the bottom of the glass. We will only be using the clarified yellow liquid , not the sediment.
Place a colander over a large bowl and strain the potatoes through the sieve. Keep the cooking liquid!* Remove the herb stems and place the potatoes and garlic back into the sauce-pot to put back on the stove, the residual heat from the pan will evaporate any excess water (we want to potatoes to be somewhat dry so they can soak up the flavor that we will add later).
Using a food mill, potato ricer, potato masher, or a good old fashion fork, Mash the potatoes and the garlic until properly smashed (if you like you potatoes chunkier, I don't recommend using a food mill ).
When you have your mashed potatoes, add in 1 c. of the clarified nutritional yeast liquid, chives, salt, cracked pepper, and plant milk (optional). Mix together and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve and enjoy!
*I always recommend using organic produce whenever possible, but especially for foods that have direct contact with the soil. Potatoes take on the flavor of the soil, and their thin skins will absorb a lot, including pesticides. I have done multiple taste tests over the years and have concluded that organic potatoes ALWAYS have a better, more mineral-like flavor. Conventional potatoes need more add-ons like sour cream and butter to get a better flavor. So, if possible please by organic potatoes, they will naturally be creamier and more flavorful.
*Make sure you put cold water on your potatoes before bringing them to a boil. DO NOT add the potatoes to warm or hot water, you may think that this will speed up the cooking process, but it will ruin the texture of the potato. The outside will cook before the inside and you will have unevenly cooked starch.
*The cooking liquid from the potatoes is a great base for gravy, or soup. The herbs have already been infused in the water along with starch molecules that will help thicken sauces and soups in the future. It can be used to re moisten the potatoes. This will keep for a few days in the fridge.
*You will have leftover clarified nutritional yeast liquid, keep it in the fridge to add to your potatoes if they lose moisture from sitting out on the counter.