This is the recipe Steve picked for “Best Thing He’s Ever Eaten” on Twin Cities Live. To Learn More About Tig and her recipes check out her blog www.apinchoflemon.com and check out her restaurant Kafe 421.
Prep Time: About 1 Hour
Bake Time: 30 – 45 Minutes
Serves: 10 – 12 People
5 Pounds Russet Potatoes
1 ½ Sticks Unsalted Butter
4 Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 ½ Cups Half and Half
8 oz. Cream Cheese
8 oz. Sour Cream
10 oz. White Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 – 2 tsp. Salt + more to taste
1 – 2 tsp. Black Pepper + more to taste
Bacon, Chives, Scallions, Sour Cream, Extra Butter, Crispy Onions, Shredded Cheese
Wash and peel the potatoes. Chop into evenly sized chunks. I usually get 4 – 6 cubes out of each potato depending on the size of the potato. Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover them with cold water, going about one inch above the top of the potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat on the stove. Boil until the potatoes are tender and can be easily smashed with a fork. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return the cooked potatoes to the pot.
While the potatoes are boiling prepare your stir in ingredients. In one small pot gently melt the butter with the smashed garlic cloves over low heat, once melted cover and keep warm until ready to use. In another small pot heat the half and half over low heat, stirring occasionally so that it does not stick to the pot. Bring the cream cheese and sour cream to room temp, so that they will stir in more easily and separate the cream cheese into small pieces. Grate the cheddar cheese and measure out the parmesan.
Once the potatoes are cooked and the stir-ins are ready to go it is time to start mashing your potatoes! Be sure to do this while the potatoes are still nice and hot, this will ensure that the stir-ins incorporate more easily. To mash the potatoes I suggest you use your favorite method – everyone has one – Potato ricer, food mill, hand masher, wooden spoon, whatever gives you your best result! I use a potato masher. Start by mashing the potatoes and then add the melted butter – discarding the garlic cloves. Next stir in the half and half, cream cheese and sour cream. I start by adding half of each into the potatoes, mixing in well, and then adding the rest. Next, stir in most of the grated cheddar cheese – leaving out about 1 full cup for later –stir in the parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Now, taste the potatoes, depending on how salty your cheeses are you may want to add another teaspoon of salt and perhaps another teaspoon of black pepper. Once the potatoes taste exactly how you like them they are ready for the baking dish.
At this point you can spread the potatoes into a buttered 9 x 13 sized baking dish, top them with the remaining cheddar cheese and put into a preheated 375°F oven. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. I look for the cheese on top to be nice and dark and crusty, with the sides a little bit bubbly. Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow them cool for about 15 minutes before serving. You may garnish with any of the above garnishes if you like, but I promise, they are delicious just as is too!!
How to make ahead
The beauty of these potatoes is that they can be made ahead of time! If your are refrigerating them the can be made about 3 days ahead of time, and if you are thinking ahead and freezing them they can be made up to 3 months ahead of time.
To make the potatoes ahead of time prepare everything as described above, going through the step of spreading the potatoes into the buttered baking dish. Once in the baking dish allow the potatoes to completely cool, then wrap the dish in plastic wrap and put in the fridge or freezer, omitting the addition of the shredded cheddar on top of the potatoes. When the time comes to cook the potatoes take them out of the fridge at least one hour before putting in the oven. Before baking sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top and follow the instructions above on cooking time.
If you froze the potatoes it is best to put the potatoes in the oven straight from the freezer. For this, remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish and replace with aluminum foil. Bake the potatoes covered for about 1 hour, stirring once or twice while baking. After an hour, remove the aluminum foil, sprinkle the potatoes with the shredded cheddar and bake until golden and bubbly, this will take another 20 or 30 minutes.
Like noted above, let the potatoes cool for 15 minutes after taking out of the oven and then you are ready to serve!