So I spent all of last week extremely bedridden and in unreal amounts of pain while recovering from my wisdom teeth coming through with all the haste and frantic energy of a character entering the room from stage left in a farcical French play about a dinner party gone lightly awry. I’m a very like, impulsive type idiot and so it was almost equally as painful to have to go from living in the moment to living in the bed, and on top of that food bearing any kind of texture whatsoever was out of the question as I could hardly open my mouth and the slightest attempt at chewing caused dagger-stabs of pain right into the very core of my gums. My one solace was that the Tramadol I’d been prescribed, while it didn’t do much whatsoever for the pain, was an extremely good time.
And so, that’s why I’m blogging about mashed potato. Not because I invented it, or think you don’t know how to make it, and not even because I’m labouring under some kind of delusion that my recipe below is particularly revolutionary in any way, but: it’s what I ate last week. My other options include “half a container of yoghurt, consumed tearfully” and “a bowl of strawberry jelly that had ‘serves four’ on the package”.
I think I absorbed this method from Nigella Lawson, which makes sense since for most of the week all I could handle concentrating on was her old TV series on loop on youtube – the pop culture equivalent of mashed potato (and pop culture consumption is almost as important as food consumption to me.) It’s very simple – you just throw whole potatoes in a hot oven and bake them, then scoop out the fluffy interiors and fork through as much cream and butter as you wish. Like seriously, I’m not even giving you quantities in this recipe because only you know how much you both desire and can handle. I much prefer this method to boiling the potatoes on the stove top, as there’s no peeling or waiting for the water to boil or draining and also cooking the potatoes without moisture results in, I believe, a far superior mash.
The only thing I really feel strongly about is that your mashed potato should have some freshly ground nutmeg on it – it gives such a warm, cosy note of spice in the same way cinnamon does on top of, say, porridge, just a tiny hint of subtle depth against the blanketing blandness of the potato. Also my specification for six potatoes is just a guess, really – if you use more potatoes or bigger ones you’ll get more mash, that’s about all there is to it.
- around six medium sized floury potatoes
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set your oven to 220C/450F, and scrub the potatoes if need be, but don’t peel them. Place them directly onto the rack in the oven – like, not on a baking tray or anything – and let them sit for around half an hour or until they’re extremely, 100% tender when you pierce them with a knife.
Halve them lengthwise and scoop the soft flesh out into a bowl. Squash it all about with a fork, stirring in as much butter and cream as you like, but if you’re completely unsure start with a few tablespoons of the former and about 20g of the latter. Obviously I added more. If you heat it up it’ll be easier to add in and won’t lower the temperature of the potato.
Sprinkle over plenty of salt, pepper, and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Dive in.
Don’t throw out the be-scooped potato skins – if you sprinkle them with grated cheese and I don’t know, some smoked paprika or something and blast them under the grill till the cheese is bubbling you are in for a very good time. Unfortunately, as previously discussed, anything even remotely textural was off limits for me so I tearfully and apologetically hoofed them into the bin.
The mashed potato itself though: good god. So soft. Eating it is like the feeling of lying on the carpet and being warmed by sun streaming through the window. Like turning off your alarm clock and being wrapped in a thick duvet. Like coming in from the cold and turning on a fan heater and just shutting your eyes and listening to the gentle humming noise it makes. Cream and butter are a simple conduit to happiness (presuming you like, enjoy the taste of them) and every last granule of potato seems to swell fatly with the richness of these ingredients. Salt and the aforementioned nutmeg stops everything from being too plain, and it’s all just very calming and delicious. I ate the whole bowl in bed and then fell asleep.
Thanks to the magic of antibiotics and bedrest I eventually improved, which means I’ve been back at work this week and I could not be happier about it. My first shift back I honestly got the stupidest grin on my face while making my first cocktail of the night, and all that aside it’s a joy to just be around people again. The errant teeth are going to be pulled out on July 3 though, so we’re not entirely out of the woods yet. My teeth have been so extremely well behaved my whole entire life so I’ve never had any real dentist experiences before – and I apologised to my dentist for being such a cliche but – I’m super nervous about it. So, I’ll probably be revisiting this recipe again many times during that week. Till then, gonna eat so many crispy chewy foods while I can. It’s crunch time!
title from: Liz Phair, Easy Target. It’s grumbly and whiny, like me!
Lorde, Writer in the Dark. WHAT IS SHE PLAYING AT ??? How DARE (I’m obsessed with this album if you can’t tell.)
Lash, Take Me Away. This song is from 2001 or something and it really feels like it production-wise, this band went absolutely nowhere but this is such a bop still, like, that chorus!!
Polly Scattergood, Wanderlust. This song is so extremely everything I look for in pop music – fizzy and dreamy and a little melancholic.
next time: something aggressively crunchy before settling back into post-operation pain-fuelled soft foods!!