Potatoes are a nice blank canvas for many aromatic tastes. Roasted garlic, with its nutty smooth flavor and homey richness, is the perfect flavoring for simply smashed potatoes. The balsamic reduction (not shown) complements the ensemble, and can be used in many other recipes, which we like. Be sure to choose a waxy variety of potato so as to avoid any unnecessary starchiness.
2 heads of garlic, top ¼ inch sliced off
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons butter
¼ to ½ cup heavy cream
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Roast the garlic:
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place the heads of garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Close foil over garlic and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Squeeze garlic from the skins into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.
Make the balsamic reduction:
Place ½ cup of balsamic vinegar in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a low boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced to a syrup. Be careful not to burn the syrup. You should have about 1/8 cup. Cool and transfer to a squeeze bottle.
Prepare the potatoes:
Put potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fork tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the potatoes. Put the potatoes back into the pot and return to low heat. Cook for 1 or 2 more minutes, stirring constantly to dehydrate the potatoes. Remove from the heat and add butter and roasted garlic. Use a hand held masher to mash potatoes to desired consistency. Add cream until the potatoes reach the desired consistency. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
[Chef’s Note: When boiling potatoes or any other root vegetables, it is important to start with cold water, and then bring to a boil. The opposite is true when boiling vegetables which grow above the ground.
For a more rustic look and texture, leave the potatoes unpeeled and smash with a fork, leaving larger pieces. Stir in the roasted garlic after smashing the potatoes, again, leaving larger bits visible.]
Mound some of the garlic smashed potatoes in the center of the serving plate. If using as a side dish with roasted meats, place the main ingredient over the potatoes or on the side. Squeeze out small drops of balsamic reduction around the plate, or drizzle directly over the potatoes, as desired.
Recipe by Mark Tafoya