I kinda like my Thanksgiving dinner to have the same basics every time. It feels reassuring to have the traditional dishes we always have, made with all the weird accommodations we deal with for my family’s different eating requirements: my mom’s vegetarian cornbread stuffing cooked far away from the turkey, the turkey for everyone else cooked somewhere where she can’t smell it cooking (I know, I don’t get it either), homemade cranberry sauce for my mom and my sister and the jellied cranberry sauce from the can for my dad and I (what, the canned sauce is SO superior and if you don’t understand that then I have nothing to say to you), and lots and lots of classic creamy mashed potatoes for everyone.
This year we aren’t having a sit-down dinner, but if we were, I’d make sure we have these dishes. Inventive side dishes are fine and even enjoyable, as long as we have these basics on our Thanksgiving table to ensure that no matter what craziness is served beside them, we will have a tasty Thanksgiving. Except that last year, it got all topsy-turvy. I couldn’t fully comprehend it until later, and couldn’t accept it until much later. That’s right: we tried a different recipe for mashed potatoes. Don’t all gasp at once.
It was all my fault, really. My very good friend Michael came to Thanksgiving, and asked if he could make his traditional mashed potatoes, which are loaded with bacon, cheese, chives and tons of sour cream. I said of course, as long as you don’t mind also having our mashed potatoes on the table because everyone in my family likes them an awful lot. He felt fine about that. So we agreed to have two mashed potato dishes and everyone could just choose the one they liked (an agreement I made while rolling my eyes and feeling a bit sorry for him and his complicated mashed potatoes that no one would eat and that – worst of all – would make bad sandwich leftovers).
Well. Needless to say, since I’m writing this story, everyone liked his mashed potatoes so much that ours seemed terribly boring in comparison – like someone just forgot to make them tasty and filled with flavor. Including me. Honestly, they are so good that I’m hoping to make them this year – the only homemade thing at our Thanksgiving, which is the highest honor I can confer upon a dish. So just trust me and make them for your Thanksgiving. Your taste buds will thank you. And yes, they are excellent as leftovers too. I was wrong about it ALL, all right?! Geez!
I’ll post photos of the dish soon, but for now, please continue for the recipe and enjoy the beefcake photo of the chef that I coerced him into letting me put up! Love it!
Michael’s Loaded Mashed Potatoes
- one big bag of red new potatoes
- one pack of bacon, turkey bacon, or vegetarian bacon
- 1/2 cup (one stick) of butter – can be salted or unsalted, as you’ll salt to taste later
- one 16 oz container of sour cream
- one bunch chives, finely chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- if desired, 1-2 cloves minced garlic
- 6 oz mild cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Wash the potatoes and cut them in half (leaving skins on). Place in a large pot and cover with water, then bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes – until you can pierce them easily with a fork. While potatoes are boiling, cook whichever bacon you prefer according to the package directions and put aside to cool. Once cool, dice bacon into bite-sized pieces.
Drain the potatoes and place them either back in the pot or in a large mixing bowl, and add the butter and half the sour cream. Using a hand masher (an electric mixer will cream them too much and you’ll end up with a soupy mess), mash potatoes until soft but still chunky. Add the rest of the sour cream until it is as creamy as you like it. With a wooden spoon, stir in chives and bacon, salt and pepper and garlic if desired.
Put potatoes into a large casserole dish and top with the grated cheddar cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, about 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.