As we hit this midpoint of November, most people either know where they are going for Thanksgiving and what menu will be prepared for the big day. We’ve all probably clicked on every recipe online and perused our own collections of cookbooks and family heirlooms.
Do you make stuffing or dressing? Do you only make pie crust like your aunt? Do you brine and/or butter baste your turkey? Do you skip all the work and just go to someone’s house with flowers in hand? And what is that secret ingredient that makes your gravy better than anyone else’s? (If you have any treasure you want to share, I’d love to see them on The Chopping Block Private Cooking Group’s Facebook Discussion.)
Personally, I have never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner so my sage advice is completely from the standpoint of a guest. The roadblocks most households have during the holiday are pretty predictable such as timing, a missing ingredient, oven space and maybe a rogue comment that is out of line. All of those issues can be set right with patience, organization and maybe a Mimosa.
Today I am going to talk about the overlooked stepchild of Thanksgiving... the leftovers! As a guest, it is a helpless situation. I really want more food after the meal. (Yep, I said it out loud!) Some hosts clean up the table and tuck away everything in the refrigerator never to be seen again. (This can be a controversial topic, so be wary of bringing it up at dinner.)
But how can a host share the leftovers and make another fabulous occasion out of the bounty without spending all day in the kitchen again? Let me introduce you to everyone’s new favorite holiday tradition…the mashed potato board!
I wish I was creative enough to come up with a portmanteau other than the commonly used “mashtini” but Spudmasherie just doesn’t roll off your tongue. Name aside... let’s get to it.
You have to have a good base, which in this case is the mashed potatoes. The Chopping Block recipe is super easy. When I made them last week, I used my espresso machine milk wand to warm the milk.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 8-10 servings
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 45 minutes
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled or scrubbed, cut in half 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 cup whole milk, warmed
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the potatoes in a large pot with 1 tablespoon sea salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife.
This was 3 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes.
I cut my potatoes into quarters which decreased cooking time by about 10-12 minutes.
- Drain potatoes thoroughly and return to the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, to evaporate any excess water. Add butter and mash partially with a potato masher. Add milk 1/4 cup at a time and continue mashing until desired consistency is reached.
This was after adding about 1/2 cup of milk. I like a rustic mashed potato so I don’t whip mine much more than this.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Here was my brainstorm session of things to put out for my “spudmasherie.” (And I apologize for whatever I spilled on my think tablet while I was brainstorming!)
As you can see, I labeled things like meats, veggies, cheeses, crispies, dry seasoning and sauces. A legume category would also go really well.
Essentially, I thought of items you’d see on a Thanksgiving dinner table. Pretty much anything was game but the pies. (Cranberry sauce may be debatable but do what makes your heart happy.)
Potato on potato action is okay. If your thanksgiving feast features roast potatoes or sweet potatoes, you can make boards out of those too!
Given that I’m suggesting a mashed potato board as a leftover display, we’ve got to put some consideration in the reheating of the dishes. (If you are serving your board with your big meal, you can skip this part.)
Reheating doesn’t seem like that big of a challenge but remember you are only going to want to warm up the food that is going to be eaten.
I put the individual dishes into their own little oven safe receptacles and covered them in foil and placed them all on a baking sheet. The sheet was placed in an oven set at 325 for 15-20 minutes. It allowed everything to come to temperature without drying anything out.
Remember it is all cooked, but the USDA recommends a temperature of 165 degrees. You could also use your microwave, but I find that works better for individual plates rather than all the side dishes.
Disclaimer: You may have to stir a few items depending on how cold they were at the time of reheating. If you think something is drying out, a pat of butter goes a long way!
While that food is reheating, you can get your other toppings like the cheeses and spices set onto a board.
How to Serve
Set up your bowl of warm mashed potatoes at the front of the line with an array of bowls. My bowls held about 2 cups of food if you packed it to the very rim. (I won’t mention who did that at my house, but I’m sure he will approach his bowl with a bit more restraint next time.)
The spoon size for serving is also important. You don’t want a giant serving spoon in each bowl, you want something a little bit smaller like one of your basic teaspoons or maybe even a soup spoon. I used my demitasse spoons and they were too small and there was some spillage.
Make sure you also have a few plates on hand for those who cannot handle their food all piled on together. Don’t judge them or tell them to put on their big boy Thanksgiving pants, just let them enjoy their food.
For me, this was an awesome way to use up (or share) leftovers. It allowed everyone to have a little bit of everything one more time. It also eliminates the guests from all standing in line for their turn at the microwave.
If you live in a turkey sandwich crowd, a Spudmasherie is a great option to serve on the side of your sandwich station. (I’m assuming you have a sandwich station at your house, if not, I’ll blog about that during the Super Bowl.)
The Chopping Block has two really great Thanksgiving workshops if you need to finesse any of your big day skills, timing and organization.
If you are in Chicagoland, join us for Hands-On Thanksgiving Workshop on Saturday, November 19 at 10am at Lincoln Square.
If you can’t make it to that class, your other option is a virtual Thanksgiving Crash Course demonstration class also on Saturday, November 19 at 10am CST. If you have never done a virtual class, there is a perk to signing up. You are sent a Zoom link that is good for one week after the class. So, you can go back and refer to the video as often as needed as you make your meal!