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Down with the mashed. Up with the galette. Heresy or a welcome revolution?

I am the Thanksgiving Maven in my family. I do it all from scratch and no one brings a dang thing but a bottle of wine and an appetite. I love it. But the list of dishes has grown to absurd lengths and I've decided to force myself to edit. I'm cutting out dishes and trying to simplify.

I've got mashed potatoes on the brain (sounds like a medical diagnosis.) They are sort of a pain in the a$$ to make, b/c I wait as long as I can to make them, so that they don't get gluey. I keep them on a double boiler to keep them warm, blah blah. I am considering jettisoning the mashed for an elegant potato galette. I can make it several hours ahead and rewarm. It's easy to slice before taking to the buffet, so won't be hard on guests.

Am I going to be put to death for heresy or is this a welcome revolution?

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  1. I think it sounds wonderful, and I would consider it a welcome revolution, but I didn't grow up with mashed potatoes per se at Thanksgiving. We make PA Dutch potato filling, which is a baked casserole made with bread stuffing combined with mashed potatoes, bound with egg and baked. Since this was on my list of "it's not Thanksgiving without..." items, I started bringing it to Thanksgiving at my husband's parents. I think the first year there was mashed potato. Since, we haven't had it. If there are people upset about it, I've never heard. However, we also do potluck style at Thanksgiving, so if anyone was really missing it, they'd probably just bring it. My husband and I would love to ditch the green bean casserole and do another fresher green veg, like roasted brussels sprouts, but so far that one seems untouchable. So we bring the sprouts and let everyone else eat the green beans.

    1 Reply
    1. re: centralpadiner

      Centralpadiner - thank you. I used to make both roasted brussel sprouts and a (grown up version of ) green been casserole, but making the bechamel, snipping the beans etc - i just can't be bothered anymore. So, this year - it's brussels. But my family loves them. Thanks for your input.

    2. Heresy.

      The galette sounds great, but I'd be really sad if there were no mashed potatoes. I think you could do them ahead, though. What if you plunged the cooked potato chunks into salted ice water? They'd cool more quickly and you'd rinse off a little starch, both of which should combat gluey. You could even do a cool topping, just do it in a deep pan so purists can eat the bottom layer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jvanderh

        My family and friends would rebel if there were no mashed potatoes to go with all that gravy. I'd have to make both. I don't think one is a substitute for the other.

      2. I am not a big fan of mashed potatoes and having to make them for T-day annoys me for all of the same reasons you listed. I asked my husband (who LOVES mashed potatoes) if he would mind if I made a galette or gratin instead, and he said "as long as there is gravy and some type of potato on which to put it, I am happy." So, that's what I'll be doing unless there is backlash from the other guests, in which case I will probably make what my mother calls "party potatoes" - it's mashed potatoes, mixed with cream cheese and sour cream and a few other things, then put in a casserole and rebaked. Easier to make ahead. I am SO OVER fooling around with my food mill 30 mins before T-day dinner!

        1. I suspect this would be heresy. We don't have a Thanksgiving where I am but I do know that families have expectations of celebration foods.

          1. Heresy. At least at my house.

            1. Ooh, I cook for a tough crowd every Thanksgiving, and if there was no mashed, harsh language, smart remarks and bad looks would be my thanks.

              However, given my choice, I'd prefer the galette for a buffet, and it makes for a more elegant meal, aside from it's ability to hold better'n mashed. biondanonima, upthread, has a great suggestion for making a mashed potato casserole that'll hold well; I've done this same thing, and it's a excellent way to get around the last minute mashed potato muddle.

              So vive la révolution, go with the galette, make a small amount of "party potatoes" for the diehards, and enjoy your holiday.

              5 Replies
              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Make your galette, and make instant mashed potatoes. No one will know exactly why the mashers don't taste quite so great but they will prefer the galette...and then next year, they won't want the mashed. I'm not confrontational, but I am kind of sneaky.

                    1. re: tonifi

                      Actually the Simple Mashed Potatoes are wonderful. I put them in my own dish to bake and everyone raves about them. Add a bit of butter and done. No one has a clue that I haven't made them from scratch. LOL!!

                      1. re: tonifi

                        MWAHAHAHAHA! I love this!!!!!! If I get any flack from the guest list I will SO do it, too!

                    2. Thanksgiving, with turkey and gravy, but no mashed potatoes? The horror, the horror....but I get your desire to simplify and make things ahead. I've made these make-ahead mashed potatos in the past when I didn't want to be tasked with the last-minute mash job, and it's really quite good; for Thanksgiving I'd rather be served this than a potato galette, good as a galette can be. Give it a try, you can make the recipe several days ahead and just reheat:


                      1. I'm from NZ, so we don't have Thanksgiving. However I nearly saw a war start between my Mum and my uncle over the type of canned fruit salad she had used in her trifle. While I'd be the same as your husband re the 'gravy and some form of potato to put it on', other people get funny about tradition.

                        1. I not doing smashed potato either and I opt for easier option than a galette. I am thinking of a large baking tray full of either scalloped potato or potato gratin. I'll prepare it earlier and just pop it into oven before dinner. In my opinion people love food that is both elaborate yet comforting on T' Day. Warm potato gratin with cheese and gravy should do. So should a galette.

                          1. I love the Cook's Country mashed potato casserole recipe for just this reason. It's a pretty good compromise. You can have mashed potatoes (slightly different texture), but it's easy to make ahead and put in the oven when ready.

                            1. I've substituted potato and mushroom gratin for the mashed potatoes quite a few times over the years and no one has complained.

                              1. If I was having a turkey dinner, I would be saddened not to have mashed potatoes. Last year I get them on low in a slow cooker and they were just fine. Had to add some extra heavy cream at the end, but they were great. Love a galette, but would miss the mash.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: escondido123

                                  Gotta agree with you here. A galette seems like almost too much going on, when all you really need is a bland vehicle for gravy :)

                                2. I'm with you. I don't even like mashed potatoes. I make a yukon and sweet potato gratin with gruyere that's so good, no one would complain. It also makes a good base for leftover turkey pot pie, too!

                                  1. Cook your potatoes the day before. Put through a ricer, let cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in microwave, add melted butter, warmed milk, s & p. Perfect mashed potatoes in a hurry. (I love potato galette, but not on Turkey Day.)

                                    1. You'd be better off asking your family members. Everyone has an idea of what T-day should be like. I wouldn't care if you served potatoes at all, but you'd better not leave out the dressing, baked in a Pyrex dish the Way It Has Always Been.

                                      The only people you have to please are your family members, though, so ask then if they'd mind the switch.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Isolda

                                        <the Way It Has Always Been.>

                                        That really does trump everything else at the holidays, huh? It's the same in my family---small tweaks permitted, but there are some constants that must. be. there.

                                      2. Mashed potato-free zone @ our house, ever since I was a kid. My mother said there was enough "starch" in the meal as it was, with dressing and sweet potatoes. When I've got a gang coming and feel like I need to add white potatoes, I either do a potato salad, a welcome contrast in temperature and taste and something I picked up in my years at a major metropolitan medical center from my African-American colleagues at our holiday potlucks, or a potato gratin with thin slices of onion in it. The kitchen is chaotic enough as it is, thanks.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: lemons

                                          I struggle with that every year, most of the traditional sides are starchy so I've left out sweet potatoes for awhile now also. Although I prefer them.

                                        2. I think it sounds great, but we never had mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving at home. I think my MIL served them, but DH didn't request them. Instead, our family HAS to have mashed rutabegos, which I am always elected to make, and I make a stockpot full since dau wants to spit the leftovers as she and SIL love them. It just wouldn't be a turkey or ham dinner without them.

                                          Does anyone else fix them for Thanksgiving dinner?

                                          1. Depends on your crowd. There would be an absolute uprising at my house if i did not have mashed on the table. I host a crowd of at least 25 ( sit down dinner ), and the potatoes are the biggest pain in the butt. I cook 15 pounds, so making them at the last minute stinks. I am going to try something new this year. I will try it before Thanksgiving, to make sure it works ( though not with 15 pounds of potatoes). I am going to make and mash them in the morning, throw in a crock pot on warm, put a dish towel between the crock pot and the crock pot lid to prevent condensation, and see what happens. If it works, I will be a happy person on Thanksgiving.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: macca

                                              I tried the crock pot method a few years ago and ended up with a burnt mess on the bottom---even on the warm setting.

                                              1. re: Sydneyeats

                                                Not good! I may still try it, making the potatoes right before we sit down is always a hassle. I make quarts of gravy ahead of time ( I buy turkey legs for this), and we have one bird in one oven for our celiac guests ( 5 of them- I guess it is hereditary), one in another oven, stuffed, stuffing made from 10 loaves of bread, along with gluten free stuffing made from tapioca bread. We serve up just about every vegetable:creamed cauliflower, corn, sweet potatotes, green beans, carrots, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, spinach, boiled onions, peas, along with cabbage salad, rolls, cranberry sauce and relish trays. By the time I make the mased potatoes, I am done!!

                                            2. Never have made mashed, and I too do most of the cooking every other year, the other set of in laws that live here do it the other year. I do a sweet potato casserole which i make the day before and refrigerate until ready to bake. With that and the stuffing it's plenty. I do an adult green bean casserole, a strawberry jello mold, turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie for dessert. It is more then enough food for everyone...have never heard a complaint, and if they do THEY can bring it the next time

                                              1. Ask your family; mine would NEVER get over the missing mashed potatoes. Other posters seem fine with the idea, but I'm aghast! :)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                  I'm aghast as well, but just because I love mashed potatoes. Potatoes (and root vegetables generally) in any form, really, but I do like mashed. If I were tempted to ditch anything honestly it would be the turkey - not my favorite meat.
                                                  But the key thing is indeed - "ask your family."

                                                2. I usually make them a day before since they are a royal pain to make as forty people stand around watching you. The next day I put them in the microwave, stirring several times until heated through and then place in the oven on warm until it's time to eat.

                                                  The potato galette sounds wonderful. I'm stuck with the mashed to please everyone else :)

                                                  1. One simple question (which should convey my horror at the idea of jettisoning the mashed potatoes): What would your guests put their gravy on? Gravy just isn't gravy unless it has mashed potatoes to ride.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                                      Uh...turkey and dressing is what it goes on at our house.

                                                      1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                                        What WOULDN'T my guests (and husband) put gravy on is a better question. DH puts it on rolls/bread, stuffing, turkey, Brussels sprouts and any other vegetable or remotely savory food on his plate. It would not surprise me to see him ladle it over apple pie.

                                                        1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                                          I put it on turkey and stuffing, too, but mashed potatoes and gravy are a match made in heaven.

                                                          1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                                            I dunno...I admit to a history as a picky eater when I was a kid, back in the Garfield Administration, and I wouldn't have done it then. Now, that's not a problem. But really good mashed potatoes are so good I personally -- and that's the key word here, personally -- take them straight. I almost never make them, because I could eat a panful myself.

                                                        2. Mashed potatoes bore me to death. I'd take any kind of potatoes over them.

                                                          1. That's the thing I eat the least of. My grandmother made the best Thanksgiving dinner. Our favorite was her rich turkey gravy over rice. We are a Japanese American family and ate rice every meal. Some people think it's odd to have gravy over rice...but it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it. She also made a fabulous Sausage stuffing that I copy but can never quite get exactly right...even after all these years. Potatoes....they're okay. I cook em and they're a hassle, but everyone else loves them. If someone knows a fool proof make ahead method...I'd love to hear all about it. I use a ricer, and do it last.

                                                            1. Here's a shortcut. Cook your potatoes and then rice them. That will render them fluffy and darn near ready and you can whisk in the seasonings to your desire. You could do the same thing for sweet potatoes, which I love, but if I had to winnow down my list of dishes I would make the sweet potatoes for a smaller audience in the very near future. I love my mashed potatoes and butternut squash. I don't do butternuts on Thanksgiving, but I wish I could- dish overload, like you were saying.

                                                              1. i can't tell you how many potato galette recipes are in my waiting list to try.
                                                                chevre, swiss chard; pesto artichoke,smoked mozarella; etc. But personally, i prefer butternut squash w/ turkey; never have eaten turkey w/ potatoes!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                  I have so enjoyed reading all these responses. It hasn't helped me a bit in making a decision, but it's been fun reading! :)

                                                                2. My big problem at Thanksgiving is oven space -- I only have one oven, and it turns into a delicate dance of timing. So anything that can be made on the stovetop or elsewhere is a plus. So the mashed potatoes stay, and another casserole is Right Out, even one just rewarming.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: antimony

                                                                    You know, antimony, you reminded me that I, too, have the one-oven-dance issue. Maybe I'll demo a partial make-ahead mashed recipe this weekend and see how it works if I boil, mash and butter in the morning and wait to add heated cream and salt in the evening and reheat over double boiler. If that works, my sister will be happy..she is really the only one with a mashed potato requirement.

                                                                    1. re: RUNNERFEMME

                                                                      Double boiler or even submerge the pot of mashed in a larger pot of boiling water, stirring frequently. Should work just fine.

                                                                  2. Depending on which relative is hosting there may or may not be turkey (one Aunt does chicken fried steak to die for, its their family tradition since her father didn't like turkey) but there is always mashed potatoes. If there weren't, someone would probably get up from the table and make them- even if it meant finding a grocery store open on Thanksgiving to buy potatoes.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                      I am all for pre-doing the taters, but do not own a microwave (and never really have missed it). Dead simple to mash the potatoes (skin on, eyes and nasty parts removed) a day or two before using butter only. Store in the fridge in a covered casserole dish or two. On the day, take the casseroles out and bring to room temp. Beat in lots of cream and melted butter, season to taste, cover with foil, throw in 350 oven for 30 mins or so - then remove foil and turn on the broiler to crisp up the little himalayas. VoilĂ !