Confession: I hate mashed potatoes. OK, that's not entirely true, but I'm almost never impressed by mashed potatoes. They always kind of taste like defeat to me, a signal that the person choosing a side for boeuf d'something or charred broccolini couldn't be bothered to think too much about it.
Then this fall we stopped in Denver at Vesta Dipping Grill, which emphasizes simple dishes complimented by an array of sauces. One of them was a seemingly-simple shallot cream sauce. We talked about it for days. I scoured recipe websites and only found half-measures (we also watch a lot of Breaking Bad). The closest I found was on Australia's Mornington Peninsula, where Chef Stuart Bell paired a shallot cream sauce with tuna: http://fandw.me/123DLz1
For Thanksgiving, our CSA dumped us with, yes, potatoes. I can't tell you a russet gold from a Yukon, uh, Gold. But my wife insisted that typically lame potatoes plus our new friend shallot cream would make us both happy. I wasn't sure, but hey, who am I to argue on a day where I get to watch 12 straight hours of football.
I like potatoes smashed, skins on, so I didn't peel these, but peel away if that's your preference. First, par-boil them for five to seven minutes. This can be done the night before.
The result below is that marital keystone: compromise. We ended up liking it, and hope you do too. —Nigel
enough for 4, plus leftovers
Whipped Shallot Cream Sauce
Heavy whipping cream
Juice of half a lemon
To taste, and also to cover baking dish
Yukon Gold potatoes (if you don't know anything about potatoes, like me, then just grab whatever in the burlap bag thingie)
Cover the bottom of a small baking dish in a layer of salt about 1/2 inch deep. Lay the shallots, unpeeled, on top. Roast them for 45 minutes.
Let them cool, peel them and put them in a food processor.
Add the cream, lemon, Dijon, and salt. Purée until the cream whips.
Try not to eat all of this right away with a spoon. It's better in the potatoes. Promise.
You have a choice here. If you prefer straight mashed potatoes, then finish boiling the potatoes to a cooked consistency. If, on the other hand, you want to gussie this up a bit, par-boil your potatoes for additional cooking later on
Whichever you chose, slice the potatoes into coins, smash them with a potato smasher and blend up the remaining bits with an immersion blender. This will be more of a chore if you par-boiled them.
Add the cumin and paprika. Stir and stir (and stir.)
Spoon in the whipped shallot cream. Stir and stir (and stir.) Blend again with the immersion blender to achieve a smoother consistency.
OPTIONAL: If you've followed the par-boiled trail, this is where you get to have fun. Put the mostly-cooked potato mixture into an oven-safe bowl. Top with the breadcrumbs (the surface area of the dish will dictate the quantity of breadcrumbs). Bake the mixture for another 10 minutes at 350, toasting the crumbs and finishing the potatoes.