In the week following Tre’s allergy diagnosis, I decided it would be best to let him have a few treats to keep his mind off things. By treats, I mean NY strip steak, semi sweet chocolate chips out of the bag, any cheese of his choice at the grocery store, and of course his favorite, mashed potatoes. Sure, meals of brie wheels or pound after pound of red meat are not the epitome of healthy, but I can certainly sympathize with emotional eating. I’ve had my fair share of breakups, bad grades, Tuesdays. While the other treats bandaided the wound and quickly dissolved from our regular diet (for both health and logistical reasons), potatoes have made it into the regular rotation several times a week now.
Potatoes have been stigmatized namely because of the illustrious french fry, which reigns supreme in the quintessential American fast food diet. Following closely behind, the notorious potato chip also seems to be a primary means by which people get their spuds. Both are fried beyond biological recognition and remain a dietary no-no for anyone touting a carbless diet. Even without the grease of frying potatoes into the nutritional equivalents of oil-soaked, salted cardboard, many health-conscious eaters tend to avoid this tuber despite nativeness to the human diet.
Without getting too scientific, the health benefits of potatoes consumed in moderation (minus the fryer and the fixins’) are on track with such esteemed vegetables as broccoli, spinach, and brussels sprouts and have been linked to cardiovascular health, neurological health, and athletic endurance. Sweet potatoes also boast health benefits that should outweigh the stigma of being a starch. Studies suggest that sweet potatoes are a healthier choice for diabetics as a natural regulator of insulin as well as an alternative to simple carbs from rice and wheat. They are also linked to increased immune system function, respiratory health, and digestive health. Not to mention, both regular potatoes — whose varieties and flavors number into the hundreds — as well as sweet potatoes are filling, delicious, and easy to prepare.
Potatoes have become our go-to carb. Those who have ever tried a WCRS-free (or variation thereof) diet, either by choice or dietary restriction, know that the cravings can become almost unbearable. As a result, we often turn to potatoes to quell the nicotine-like need for household carbs we used to so frivolously enjoy. In this realm, Tre has really stepped up; shaming my single attempt at making a side dish of garlic smashed potatoes and showing me up with a version of his own. Tre’s potatoes take the cake and while they do not have any sort of official recipe, I encourage everyone to give these a try.
Tre’s Garlic Smashed Potatoes
- * 4 red potatoes, medium size, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces with skin
- 1 clove garlic
- ** Milk/Half&Half/Heavy Cream, between 1/4 and 1/2 cup by preference for consistency
- 4 tbsp butter, less/more by preference for taste or consistency
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp onion powder, or to taste
- *** Dash of white pepper to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
* For portioning, my rule of thumb is that each uncooked potato will yield slightly more than a single serving of smashed potato
** We use half and half in moderation
*** A rarity in most kitchens, white pepper is an incredible spice with a slightly flavored heat, unique to any spice I’ve ever tried.
- Heat a large sauce pan of salted water until it reaches a boil. Carefully add your pieces of potato and garlic clove to the boiling water. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook but begin to check for softness after about 10 minutes. Test for softness with a fork and strain potatoes with a colander once they are soft enough to be penetrated by a fork. Do not discard garlic clove.
- Return the potatoes and garlic clove to your sauce pan over your lowest heat setting. Add butter and begin to smash either with a large fork or potato masher. Once butter has completely melted, begin to add your milk/half&half/cream a little at a time while mashing. Continue to add until potatoes thicken to desired consistency, but not too much that they become watery.
- Mash in garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, salt, and black pepper to taste. Add in moderation and sample until you reach a flavor you enjoy.
The real game changers here are:
- Boiling the potatoes with a garlic clove or two — a technique that Tre swears by which results in a garlic-infused flavor as well as a softened, cooked clove for easy smashing. If you like the flavor, opt for more fresh garlic cloves and cut out the garlic powder from the recipe.
- White pepper, mentioned above, has a distinct flavor that I’d never experienced before Tre’s introduction of it through this recipe. Now, it’s become a staple in almost all my cooking for a mild, unique heat perfect for meat seasoning, omelets, even pizza. Try alone by sprinkling a small amount on the back of your hand and tasting for a sense of its standalone flavor but use caution as it can be quite spicy in large quantity.