Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite day of the year. Sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends as the sun sets on a cool Autumn evening is the perfect occasion to ruminate over what we are thankful for. My family’s tradition for the last Thursday in November commences with a hearty breakfast followed by “stuffing and trussing” the turkey. Once the bird is tucked into the oven, we convene for a leisurely hike to stretch our legs, admire the migrating geese and give the dogs a good run-around. Once back home, we shed our fleece jackets, knit hats, and woolen gloves into a pile by the front door, and congregate around a roaring wood fire. Some fold themselves into cozy love seats accompanied by a soft blanket and captivating novel, while others gather around a board game. We all take frequent trips into the kitchen, unable to ignore the incredibly tantalizing aromas wafting throughout the house. Handfuls of nuts and bites of light hors d’oeuvres whet our appetites for the impressive spread of golden-brown roast turkey, baked stuffing, sweet potato casserole, sauteed green beans with toasted almonds, jeweled cranberry sauce, and waldorf salad. After sharing stories and many laughs, we convince ourselves that there is room in our distended bellies for a sampling of pecan pie, apple crisp, and pumpkin pie. Then we roll ourselves back into the living room and lounge until we can no longer keep our eyes open.
It is a good day.
This year marks my first Thanksgiving away from my parents and brother, but I will be surrounded by family and friends nonetheless. My husband and I will be making the short drive down to Connecticut to spend the festive holiday with his family. Although I will miss the traditions that I have enjoyed in years past, I am looking forward to participating in those of my new in-laws.
Speaking writing (?) of new traditions, a friend of ours is hosting a pre-Thanksgiving feast this weekend. Mike will provide the bird, and his guests will adorn the table with a variety of side dishes and desserts. John and I were asked to bring mashed potatoes, so I set to work on Saturday morning whipping up a Thanksgiving-worthy version of this classic turkey accompaniment. I prefer the chunkier texture of “smashed” to “mashed” potatoes, but you could certainly peel the potatoes prior to cooking and whip them after cooking to achieve a smoother consistency. I lightened this typically heavy dish by subbing in 2% milk for the heavy cream and 2% Greek yogurt for the sour cream, as well as significantly cutting down on the amount of butter. To pump up the flavor factor, I added in a generous amount of roasted garlic. Two whole heads of garlic may sound excessive, but the roasting process does a beautiful job of mellowing out the naturally pungent flavor of the raw vegetable.
Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Yields 10-15 servings
- 2 heads fresh garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups 2% reduced fat milk
- 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
- Preheat oven to 450*F.
- Slice each head of garlic in half widthwise, and drizzle with olive oil.
- Wrap garlic in foil and roast for 30-40 minutes, until the garlic cloves have softened. Let cool, then squeeze the garlic pulp out of the papery skin. Mash in a small bowl.
- Cover the potatoes with cold water in a large stock pot. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until easily pierced with a knife.
- Drain the water from the pot, and add to the potatoes the mashed roasted garlic, milk, butter, and Greek yogurt. Smash with a potato masher until desired texture is achieved. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Although I would never part with my favorite sweet potato casserole, these smashed potatoes are good enough to earn a place on the Thanksgiving table.
Perhaps I’ve stumbled upon a new tradition.