Loaded Mashers and Thanksgiving Menu

by Robin on November 17, 2011

in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving is just one week away, and I’m just a few recipes away from sharing this year’s entire Thanksgiving menu. Today, the subject is mashed potatoes, but before we get to the spuds, I wanted to post my finalized menu for next week’s feast. Here it is:

2011 Thanksgiving Menu
Stuffed Seitan en Croute with Chestnut-Porcini Gravy
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Kale Ribbons
Deconstructed Green Bean Casserole
Loaded Mashed Potatoes with Cremini Bacon
Pan-Braised Cranberries with Lime
Pumpkin Tiramisu

So far this week, we covered the Deconstructed Green Bean Casserole, the Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Kale Ribbons (on OneGreenPlanet), and the Stuffed Seitan en Croute (on Vegan.com).  And we’ve also discussed pumpkin cheesecake at length, although I’ve been inspired to make something new this year:  pumpkin tiramisu (recipe coming soon).)  Now on to the potatoes!

For years I was conflicted about when to prepare the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.  There’s always so much going on, but I always thought they had to be made at the last minute and I have a thing about leaving dirty pots and pans around when I’m serving a special meal.  That’s why I’m glad I discovered that mashed potatoes will stay perfectly fluffy and wonderful when kept warm for a few hours in a slow cooker (on the Keep Warm setting).  That way you can make them and wash up the pot while they keep warm and ready to serve.

Mashed potatoes are extremely versatile and can be embellished in a number of ways, by adding garlic or fresh herbs, or even wasabi or chipotle. There’s also the colcannon-type addition of cooked greens such as kale or chard.  For Thanksgiving, I usually go for garlic mashers, but this year I’m trying something a little different.  It’s a spin on “loaded” baked potatoes — but with mashed potatoes.  I took the recipe for a test drive last weekend and it’s delicious.  You can use your favorite vegan bacon, whether storebought or homemade (I’ve included a recipe for one made with cremini mushrooms), or omit the bacon altogether.  I’ve also provided a “make ahead” option for the oven, although oven space can be a challenge on Thanksgiving, so you might want to consider keeping them warm in the slow cooker — or you could just do it the old fashioned way and make them at the last minute.  After all, what’s one more dirty pot?


Loaded Mashed Potatoes

2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
1/2 cup vegan sour cream, plus more for serving  
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or 1 tablespoon dried
1/4 cup plain unsweetened nondairy milk, heated (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped cooked vegan bacon or Cremini Bacon (recipe follows)
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs (optional for baked version)
Cook the potatoes in enough boiling salted water to cover until tender when pierced with a fork.  Drain well and return to the pot.  Add the Earth Balance and the sour cream and mash the potatoes.  Add half of the chives, and as much of the warm milk as needed for the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
Serving options:
To serve immediately: transfer to a serving bowl and top with an extra dollop of sour cream, the vegan bacon and remaining chives.
If not serving right away: transfer the potatoes to a greased Slow Cooker set on Warm where the potatoes will keep well for a few hours. When ready to serve, transfer to a serving bowl and top with an extra dollop of sour cream, the vegan bacon and remaining chives.
To make ahead and bake: Transfer the potato mixture to a greased baking dish, spreading evenly. Cover and refrigerate until needed.  When ready to bake, bring the casserole to room temperature.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  If using breadcrumbs, mix them in a small bowl with the vegan bacon. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven, remove the foil, sprinkle on the bacon (and bread crumbs if using) and return to the oven for 15 minutes or until hot and golden brown on top. If desired, serve with a small bowl of sour cream and chives on the side.
Serves 6
Cremini Bacon
You can leave the mushrooms in slices or chop them to look like bacon bits. They can be cooked on the stovetop or baked in the oven.

2 tablespoons soy sauce 

2 teaspoons maple syrup or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 cup thinly sliced or chopped cremini mushrooms
In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, and liquid smoke.  Stir to mix well.  Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. 
Stovetop: Transfer the mushrooms to a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until cooked and nicely browned.

Oven: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the mushroom slices in a single layer in an oiled baking dish and bake until nicely browned, turning once, 20 to 30 minutes. 

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