Why think about Thanksgiving in the middle of summer?
Because, my semiannual "Thanksgiving in August" party is just around the corner. And what is TGIA you ask? A month long reminder to start planning Thanksgiving dinner (and the winter holidays) NOW (or at least not at the last minute). As tradition stipulates this semiannual event culminates in a TGIA potluck with friends and family gathered around a long table, shaded by a few patio umbrellas, trying to manage the sweat in our eyes as we tuck into a heavy meal of turkey gravy and mashed potatoes on a 90 degree day. Some great ideas take sacrifice to see through and Thanksgiving in August (or July, any summer month works) is no exception.
Where to start
Do you wish your mashed potatoes where creamer, are you determined to make Green bean casserole from scratch this year instead of relying on cans of mushroom glop? Then start practicing now by making those holiday favorites for dinner. I recommend choosing recipes and dishes that you had trouble with last year and new recipes that you want to add to your repertoire. The benefits are twofold, you'll get food on the table while perfecting the timing and nuances of a recipe that you might only make once a year. With enough practice you'll memorized the recipes, save on time and make it look easy which is the true sign of a seasoned pro.
Professional Chefs do it all the time. This is actually a large part of how I wrote new restaurant menus, by beta testing menu ideas on paying customers as nightly specials. By the time my new seasonally inspired menus went "live" the cooks knew exactly how to prep and execute the dishes with an added bonus that the neighborhood regulars would feel involved in the process and enjoy the new dished even more.
What did we learn?
Don't wait until the last minute and expect great results.
Practice. If you love Aunt Karen's sweet potato surprise on Thanksgiving chances are it'll still be a treat 3 or 4 times a year.
World Best Mash Potatoes
The russet potato, also known as the baking or Idaho potato, has low moisture and high starch, qualities that yield wonderfully light, fluffy mashed potatoes. They key to that fluffy texture is to process the hot potatoes in a ricer or food mill. It’s also important to simmer rather than boil potatoes for even cooking.
Yield: 4 servings
2-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter
Freshly ground white pepper, as needed
Kosher salt as needed
In a large pot, combine the potatoes and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Lower the heat to medium, cover partially, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain in a colander.
Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine the cream, milk and butter over a medium-low heat and warm until the butter just melts, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Set a potato ricer on the rim of the pot used to cook the potatoes. Half fill the ricer with cooked potatoes and press them through. Repeat until all the potatoes have been pureed.
Using a silicone spatula, add the hot liquid mixture and truffle salt and mix by hand until incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning potatoes with additional salt and pepper.