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Published November 19, 2013, 12:21 PM

Lost Italian: Ultimate comfort food gets royal treatment with butter, heavy cream

Very few foods say comfort like real whipped potatoes do; in fact, they ooze comfort. Out of all the wonderful dishes we’ve served at Sarello’s over the past 13 years, our whipped potatoes have remained a staple on our menu and a favorite among our guests. Our whipped potatoes are so consistently good that, for many years, a certain well-known potato farmer has enjoyed joking with Tony that they must be made from instant potatoes.

By: Sarah and Tony Nasello, INFORUM

Very few foods say comfort like real whipped potatoes do; in fact, they ooze comfort. Out of all the wonderful dishes we’ve served at Sarello’s over the past 13 years, our whipped potatoes have remained a staple on our menu and a favorite among our guests. Our whipped potatoes are so consistently good that, for many years, a certain well-known potato farmer has enjoyed joking with Tony that they must be made from instant potatoes.

Whipped (or mashed) potatoes are a common dish on many holiday tables, and each year at this time we receive an influx of requests for our recipe. With only four ingredients, there’s nothing complicated or unusual about our recipe, but a few extra steps along the way will ensure an excellent outcome every time. This is what Tony calls “adding the love.”

We use Idaho (Russet) potatoes at the restaurant, which are usually large, up to one pound each, with brown skin and white flesh. They have a high starch content and are low in moisture, which makes them ideal for mashing or baking. The drier texture of the Idaho potatoes when cooked will result in fluffier whipped potatoes.

Once the potatoes are cooked, we come to another important step. After draining the potatoes, we return them to the stock pot and continue to cook them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes to cook off the excess moisture. This ensures that the potatoes are as dry as possible so that they will fully absorb the cream and butter.

If you’ve ever made whipped potatoes, you’re already aware that heavy cream and butter are key components in this dish. We hate to say it, but for really flavorful, fluffy potatoes, the more cream and butter in the dish, the better. For this recipe, be sure to use unsalted butter and real cream, not milk or half and half.

We always warm up the cream and butter before adding them to the cooked potatoes, so as not to shock the potatoes. First, mix the butter, cream and salt together in a small pot over medium-low heat, until all the butter has melted and the ingredients are fully incorporated. Next, add this mixture to the potatoes, in stages, as they are being whipped.

Once the potatoes are ready, use a mixer with the whip attachment, which works better to incorporate air into the potatoes so that they are fluffy, light, and smooth – and ready to melt in your mouth.

To make whipped sweet potatoes, follow the same recipe but add a half-cup of light brown sugar and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon when melting the butter and cream mixture.

A good rule when planning your menu is to allow about one half-pound of potatoes per person. I’d take that one step further and add two or three more potatoes to account for leftovers. I have fond memories of my mother making potato croquettes for breakfast from our leftover whipped potatoes.

The cold potatoes can be formed into balls or patties, then dredged in an egg-wash followed by plain or panko breadcrumbs, and fried over medium-high heat until golden brown and completely heated through. The oil in your pan should come up to about half the height of the croquettes.

If you’re looking for more recipes, turkey tips and ideas, we invite you to check out the Thanksgiving 101 section on our blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sarello’s Whipped Potatoes

Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

6 Idaho potatoes, peeled (approximately 5 to 6 pounds, or a ½-pound per person)

1 stick butter, unsalted

2½ cups heavy cream (whipping cream 35%)

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Directions:

Fill a large stock pot with plenty of water and boil the peeled potatoes over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 60 minutes. Use a set of tongs to check for doneness by squeezing a few of the potatoes, which should break apart when done.

Strain the potatoes over the sink, and return them to the stock pot. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally with a spoon. This will remove any excess moisture.

Transfer the potatoes to a mixing bowl and use the whip attachment or beaters, on a medium-high setting, to whip the potatoes. As this occurs, heat the cream, butter and salt in a sauce pan over medium heat, until the butter is melted, about five to seven minutes, stirring constantly.

Reduce mixer to low speed and slowly add the warm cream and butter mixture to the potatoes in several stages, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Once all the liquid is added, turn mixer to high and whip for 2 to 4 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

To store: Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days.

Tony’s Tips:

E To make whipped sweet potatoes, follow the above recipe but add a half cup of light brown sugar and one tablespoon of ground cinnamon when melting the butter.

E To ensure leftovers, add 2 to 3 potatoes to this recipe.

E For smaller groups, simply halve the recipe.

E To make potato croquettes from leftover whipped potatoes, simply form them into balls or patties, dredge in egg-wash then plain or panko breadcrumbs and fry in oil over medium-high heat until golden brown and heated through. The oil in your pan should come up to about half the height of the croquettes.

Home with the Lost Italian is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello’s restaurant in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 8-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at dine@sarellos.com. All previous recipes can be found at http://thelostitalian.areavoices.com

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