I really had just one comfort food growing up: hot buttered toast. I think it started when I got the chicken pox and had to recover at my grandma’s house. My aunt came over several times during that week, always with homemade wheat bread. So I lay in my little bed of two armchairs pushed together and ate hot buttered toast. It was lovely! Mashed potatoes, on the other hand, didn’t earn a place in my comfort food arsenal until much later– I always thought they were kind of plain. Then one day I read that cream cheese makes a very good addition to mashed potatoes. I immediately knew this was the elevation the dish needed! The cream cheese makes them zingy, and brings out a tanginess that is worth the few minutes it will take to boil and mash them up.
I have found that the quickest way to cut potatoes for boiling and mashing is to slice them into 1/4-inch rounds. This is faster than cutting cubes, and the rounds cook faster because they are thinner. I don’t salt the cooking water, because I like to have control over the salt during the mashing process.
The basic ratio here is 8 ounces potato to 3 1/3 ounces cream cheese, plus salt to taste. Add pepper and any herb you like: rosemary, thyme, garlic, and red or green onion are all nice. Also, this recipe is very easy to double or generally upsize as you need. If you have read many of my posts, you know I am a proponent of digital kitchen scales, and this recipe is no exception. A good little scale makes up-and-downsizing a breeze. Plus, no guessing about a potato “as big as your hand,” or “smaller than a softball.” Too stressful– just weigh it! You will be happy you did.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, slice approximately 8 ounces of (my favorite) Yukon Gold potato into 1/4-inch slices, like so:
When the water boils, add the potato and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, and place potatoes into a medium bowl. Add the cream cheese and mash, mash, mash. I just use a fork. It makes me feel connected to my dinner! When the mixture is thoroughly combined, add salt to taste. Start with 1/8 teaspoon, and move up from there as you like. Sprinkle on some green onions, and you have the perfect side dish, or maybe, ahem, just dinner itself.
Note: If you don’t have a scale, go for it anyway. It’s kind of hard to go wrong with potatoes and cream cheese. After that, you should go buy a scale 🙂
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