My typical simple formula for mashed potatoes is usually: boiled potatoes, butter, and milk—mashed together and that’s it. Recently I’ve been adding another ingredient to it—cheese. It instantly becomes another kind of mashed potatoes–creamy and more flavorful. Creamy cheese mashed potatoes! The cheese is added at the very end and the puree is cooked on a stove until the cheese melts into the potatoes. Yum! I learned this trick from my friend Aysun, an amazing cook. I made this dish a part of our Thanksgiving dinner this year. Can’t wait to make it again, for another happy occasion.
A few pointers to guide you in your mashed potato making adventure. You’ve probably seen many recipes for mashed potatoes before, most calling for peeling the potatoes then boiling them. This is a no-no for me. I don’t like doing so. Because, first, the skins keep the flavors inside, and second, the skins will prevent the boiling potatoes from absorbing a lot of water thus loosing most of its starch. So I say keep the skin on and peel it later.
About cheese: I use Turkish Kashar cheese (a local Turkish grocery store carries it), which is more known as Greek Kasseri cheese in the US. It is a mild milk cheese with a slightly salty flavor. The closest substitutes would be Provolone or mozzarella cheese. Or a combination of the two. Here’s Kasseri cheese, pictured below.
Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
5 medium potatoes (such as Russet or Yukon Gold – Russet is very starchy, while Yukon Gold is not as much; don’t use waxy potatoes, such as red)
2 ounces (57 g) unsalted butter (adjust to taste)
1/2 cup milk (adjust to taste)
1 cup grated Kasseri cheese (adjust to taste; can substitute Provolone or mozzarella cheese).
Wash the potatoes and place in a medium pot. Fill with water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, and while still warm, peel of the skins. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher in the same pan (rinse it!), add butter while the potatoes are still warm; mash to melt the butter into the potatoes. Add the milk and mash some more. Adjust the amount of butter or milk to taste; add more, if needed.
Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium-low. Add the cheese and cook, stirring frequently, until the cheese melts into the potatoes, a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.