Yesterday while I was surfing for recipes instead of sucking my brain dry on Poisson ratio charts, I came across this recipe for mashed potatoes with cheese on top. The key to hitting the print button was its simplicity, and good ingredient proportion. While I was at my ghetto ass Superfresh for the potatoes and cream I saw some decent looking sliced baby portabellas, and I thought: yes…YES! Of course I couldn’t find anything remotely similar to Gruyère, and I have this unfortunate aversion to Swiss. I found myself in that Bermuda triangle of quality, the processed cheese aisle. You know the one, with rows of Kraft singles as far as the eye can see. I’m looking for something, anything good that doesn’t have the word cheddar (although that would be killer too), Kraft, or imitation on the label. Cracker Barrel to my rescue, featuring a package of sliced natural Fontina. I’ve never actually purchased or cooked with Fontina before but I’ve heard that word on many a cooking show, so at the very least I’d have something culinarily relevant. Ha! I think I’m forgetting that this is a glorified bowl of mashed potatoes, so anyway, on with the recipe.
6 Idaho baking potatoes
16 oz portabella mushrooms
½ lb unsalted butter – 2 sticks plus an extra 2 tablespoons
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated parmesan
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ to ¾ cup Fontina cheese, just rip up a few slices. Cheddar would also kick ass.
¼ cup fresh herb – chives, parsley, basil…
Wash and dry potatoes, poke all over with a fork, and bake on an aluminum foiled cookie sheet for 45 minutes at 425F until fork tender.
While the potatoes are doing their thing, wash and slice (if you got them whole) the shrooms, dry with a paper towel, and sauté in 2 tablespoons of the butter and a little salt and pepper over medium heat.
When the shrooms are soft, remove them and set aside, leave the liquid in the pan.
Using the leftover liquid, sauté the garlic until fragrant (2 minutes on med-low heat).
Let the potatoes sit for a few minutes after they are done or use a towel so you can handle them. Scrape off the skin with a knife and put the naked spuds into a large bowl. Coarsely mash with a fork into small pieces, the potato should fall apart easily, if not, well I don’t know how to fix that so I guess you’re beat.
Cut the remaining butter into tablespoon pieces (melts faster) and add them, the cream, parmesan, herbs, and the cooked garlic with pan drippings to the potatoes and mix with a big spoon until all the liquid is soaked up (a couple minutes of stirring does just fine). Taste and add salt and pepper accordingly.
Take out some sort of baking dish, I used a 9 inch round cake pan because I had nothing else small enough. Spread half of the potato mixture on the bottom of the dish, pour the mushrooms on top, then gently plop the rest of the potatoes on top of that. Flatten the top and layer on the torn up cheese pieces, if you are really lazy you could just lay on whole slices. Turn on your broiler and put the dish on the second from top rack. Broil for about 5 minutes until lightly brown and slightly puffed. Keep an eye on that mess, I don’t know how easy it is to burn Fontina and it was too expensive for me to experiment.
Voila! Instant happiness. You'll notice the absence of herbage in my pics, well that's because my "Super" grocery store only had dill and cilantro, so just put some imaginary green bits in there and that's what it'll look like. I ate this with some steamed broccoli to make me feel a little better about the whole ½ lb of butter thing. There are four layers of awesome in there so use a big spoon.