The Book Vegetables

30. Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots p.559

the recipe

These were nice potatoes, not spectacular, but good. These were part of the same meal as the pork chops, so I I was scaling this recipe up too. I’m not always a fan of stuff in mashed potatoes, I do like a little roasted garlic, but people can go too far with cheese, bacon, chives and who knows what else. I’m sure if you looked hard enough you could find a recipe that will tell you to put hot dogs in your mashers. In this case the additions were very restrained, just some caramelized shallots. They added a nicely sweet edge, and brought the goodness of the Maillard reaction to this dish.

The sweet shallots were a nice compliment to the sour bite of the buttermilk. I think buttermilk was the real star of this dish actually. It helped to take them from straight ahead starchy goodness to a more nuanced place. Sour cream has an undeniable affinity for baked potatoes, and the same magic is happening here. The recipe calls for very little butter (1/2 tablespoon for 3/4 lb potatoes), this is both the recipe’s virtue and it’s vice. They were very flavourful, and the thickness of the buttermilk helped them take on a bit of a creamy texture without too much added fat, but I can’t deny that I missed the butter. I was serving this to a room full of ravenous 20 something boys, so they wouldn’t have cared if I’d added butter by the pound.

My take on the lack of butter might have been quite different if it was making this for just my dining companion and I. She eats most of these meals with me, and often asks if I can look for something a bit less rich to make from The Book. I’m already running out of heart-healthy options. This is one of the few recipes that fits the bill, and I wasted it on The Boys.

There were a lot of good ideas going on in this recipe: Limited additions, not much butter, building texture and flavour with buttermilk. But, somehow it just didn’t gel into the ne plus ultra of mashed potato recipes.


I'm a graduate student in Montreal. I spend most of my time studying drug addiction using brain imaging techniques. I'm also a foodie, exploring the culinary world both in and out of my kitchen.

2 replies on “30. Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots p.559”

You’re right of course, that classic had slipped my mind. Things sound so much less disgusting when you give them cute nicknames, like bubble and squeak, or toad in the hole (well, toad in the hole isn’t nasty at all, just a charming name).

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