Buttermilk Mashed Potato Vichyssoise with Cheddar-Bacon-Potato Peel Crisps

By • February 13, 2012 0 Comments

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Author Notes: I worked this up for an X-Files-themed meal I cooked for my weekly supper club a little while back. I was trying to evoke the episode "Small Potatoes," in which a shapeshifter steals Mulder's identity and tries to seduce Scully. I was going for the taste of one thing in the form of another. The potato peel crisp was just one of those Eureka! moments. I had saved the peels, having just the vaguest notion that I wanted to do some kind of play on fried potato skins as a garnish. That eventually led me to a play on parmesean crisps instead.Bogre

Serves 6-8

  • 1/2 pound smoky bacon (preferably double-smoked), diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds yukon gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed (save the peels! You'll be using them later.)
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • snipped chives or thinly sliced green onions, to garnish
  • 1/2-1 cups finely grated cheddar cheese
  1. Halve the leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. Wash well and dry.
  2. Cook bacon in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy and rendered of fat. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain. (Some will be for garnish, some will go in the crisp.) Leave 2 tbsp of the bacon fat in the pan. Reserve another couple tbsp for making the crisps later. Now lower the heat to medium-low and add the butter. When the foaming subsides, add the leeks, garlic, a generous pinch of salt, and lots of fresh-ground black pepper, then cover and let stew until quite soft, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and broth and bring to boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender enough that they can be mashed against the side of the pot with your spoon.
  4. Remove the pot from heat. Allow to cool a bit. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor, or directly in the pan with an immersion blender.
  5. In a separate, heatproof bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and heavy cream. Temper the cream mixture by stirring in a ladleful of soup at a time, then pour this mixture back into the soup pot. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for several hours before serving, or overnight. When ready to serve, garnish with reserved bacon bits, snipped chives, and cheddar-potato crisp (see below).
  6. To make the crisps: Heat oven to 350 F. Fry potato skins in reserved bacon fat until crisped. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Pulse in food processor with a handful of cooked crumbled bacon and a few pinches of snipped chives until well-combined and finely ground. Mix in a bowl with the grated cheddar until fully integrated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form thin discs, using about a tbsp's worth of the mix for each. Press down super-flat on the parchment paper, leaving two inches between circles. Use more than one sheet if necessary. You want these puppies to be as thin and wispy as possible when baked. Pop them in the oven and bake til golden and lacy, 5-10 mins. Let cool on the tray(s), then serve with the vichyssoise.
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