Party Potatoes

Party Potatoes (AKA Holiday Mashed Potatoes)
Think of this as a make-ahead potato casserole that masquerades as mashed potatoes. You can improvise as you like, but whatever you do, don’t skip the cream cheese. It adds richness and a nice tang, and its plasticity is what keeps these fluffy and light. I sometimes include another starchy vegetable (at a ratio of 4 parts potato to about 1 part “other”). Favorites include parsnip, rutabaga or winter squash. (The photo above is from my recipe that appeared in Fine Cooking magazine a few years back for Mashed Potato and Rutabaga Gratin). The original Party Potatoes appeared in One Potato, Two Potato (Houghton-Mifflin, 2001)
Serves: Serves 10 to 12
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • Kosher or medium-grain sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup milk, warmed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Paprika
  1. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water by at least an inch, add a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover partway, and cook until the potatoes are very tender. Drain and return them to the pot. Set over medium heat for a minute or two, shaking and stirring so the potatoes don’t stick, until they are floury and have made a film on the bottom of the pot.
  2. Remove the potatoes from the heat and break them up with a hand-held electric mixer on low speed. Gradually drop in 6 tablespoons of the butter and beat until it is absorbed. Refrigerate the remaining butter. Continue with the cream cheese and sour cream, beating well after each addition. Finally, beat in the milk, adding a little at a time. You want the potatoes to be fluffy and light; if they seem to be getting too wet, don’t add all of the milk. Season with salt and pepper. (If you don’t have an electric mixer, use a hand masher to start and then use a wooden spoon to beat in the butter, cheese, sour cream, and milk. Beat the milk into the potatoes one-third at a time, beating vigorously after each addition.)
  3. Butter a 9- X 13-inch baking dish and spoon the potatoes into it. Smooth the top and then, with spatula or fork tines, swirl or score the surface of the potatoes to leave little peaks that will brown up nicely during baking. Refrigerate, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days before baking.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Dust the top with paprika and cut the remaining butter into small pieces and scatter them over the surface. Bake until the potatoes are heated though and the top is lightly golden, about an hour. (Expect it to take only half the time if the potatoes haven’t been refrigerated.) Serve hot.
Recipe from One Potato, Two Potato by Roy Finamore with Molly Stevens (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)


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