WHO: Derek Laughren, our Test Kitchen Manager, roasts a turkey, rolls out sugar cookie dough, and makes flat bacon, all in a day’s work.
WHAT: Mashed potatoes that take care of themselves.
HOW: Flavor Yukon Gold potatoes at the same time you cook them by salting their boiling water and adding a bundle of crushed garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme to bob alongside. Press the cooked potatoes through a mill and mix them with melted butter and cream.
WHAT: Sometimes you pour salt on mashed potatoes and yet they refuse to be anything but bland. In this recipe, you hit the potatoes with flavor before they see it coming. When you season the cooking water with garlic, salt, and spices, the potatoes stand no chance of being boring. —The Editors
Peel and cut the potatoes in similar-sized chunks, about 4 pieces per potato. Place them in a large pot and cover them by a couple inches of cold water. Heavily salt the water. It should taste of the sea, but it should be a little less salty than pasta cooking water, as the potatoes will absorb a lot of the salt. If you do this right, you won't have to season the potatoes at all later on. Peel and crush the cloves of garlic. Make a bouquet garni with the garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme. (Tie them in cheesecloth or between two pieces of the dark green parts of a leek.) Add it to the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender through the thickest parts, about 20 minute.
While the potatoes are simmering, cube your butter and add it to a small sauce pot with the heavy cream. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter is fully melted. Turn the heat as low as possible, keeping the mixture warm until the potatoes are finished.
Remove the bouqet garnis and drain the potatoes. Return the potatoes to the empty pot and place over low heat. Push the potatoes around gently, until they are completely dry and appear chalky with starch on the outside. Immediately mill the potatoes through a food mill, using the fine die, into a mixing bowl. Fold in the cream and butter, which should still be hot. Taste. They should have a full savory flavor and be well seasoned. If you like your potatoes extra peppery, you can fold in some ground white pepper at this point. It won't show up in your finished product, and it will accentuate the dairy flavors of the cream and butter. Plate. Serve.