The Secret Ingredient Ina Garten Adds For Ultra-Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ina Garten speaking into microphone
Ina Garten speaking into microphone - Brad Barket/Getty Images

There'd really be no Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner if it wasn't for mashed potatoes. You can make them with the skins on for a rustic look, or run them through a ricer to make them extra fluffy, but whatever you do, don't skip the spuds. If you're feeling like you're in a bit of a mashed potato rut, however, that's to be expected if all you're doing is mashing potatoes with milk or cream and butter. If you want something more inspired in your next batch of mashed potatoes, do what Ina Garten does: Add some goat cheese. The tangy, creamy flavor of chèvre with potatoes is a sneaky way to add more complexity to a boring bowl of mashed potatoes. In fact, potatoes have a delicious, mild, earthy flavor that combines well with all kinds of ingredients, so you can choose to use either plain goat cheese or any type of herb-encrusted varieties to find a combination that you love.

It's not hard to make mashed potatoes seasoned with goat cheese, but you do have to keep some basic cooking principles in mind. Be sure to add the cheese while the potatoes are still hot so that it melts into the mixture seamlessly (more on this later), and try not to overmix or mash your potatoes so that they don't get gluey because no cheese can save a batch of gummy spuds. Try to skip all the most common mashed potato-making mistakes and you'll be rewarded with the side of the season.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Make Potatoes The Barefoot Contessa Way

A bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter and herbs
A bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter and herbs - Dina Saeed/Shutterstock

One of the biggest drawbacks to mashed potatoes is that they can be a little bland. When they're made with just basic ingredients like cream, butter, salt, and pepper, they're still good but they aren't reaching their full potential. Most memorable food dishes have some combination of flavors like sweet and salty, sweet and spicy, bitter and fatty, and so on. Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame knows this of course, which is why she adds goat cheese to her mashed potatoes.

Goat cheese is a light, tangy, fresh cheese made with goat milk, and it has an unmistakable gamey flavor that adds sourness to fatty, salty mashed potatoes. In her recipe for goat cheese mashed potatoes, Garten adds around 7 to 8 ounces of herbed goat cheese to 3 pounds of boiled Yukon Gold mashed potatoes to get the flavor ratio just right. That's not the only dairy you'll need for a batch of mashed potatoes, however. You'll still need all the milk and butter to mix in and make your mashers smooth and silky. The goat cheese is really for flavoring. Garten also uses a little bit of sour cream in her recipe, which will enhance the tangy flavor of the goat cheese and add to the creamy texture of your dish.

Adding Cheese To Mashed Potatoes

A log of fresh goat cheese with rosemary sprig
A log of fresh goat cheese with rosemary sprig - Christianjung/Getty Images

Whenever you add dairy products to your mashed potatoes, it's important to do it while they're still very hot, as previously mentioned. When the potatoes come out of the pot, the starch molecules are puffed up and gelatinized, so they can absorb some of the flavors of the ingredients. Not only that, your potatoes will start to get gluey and sticky as the starch starts to cool down and congeal, so you want to make sure that all the dairy gets incorporated while the spuds are still too hot to touch. If not, you'll over-mix the potatoes trying to get all the dairy mixed in, and your potatoes will end up like wallpaper paste.

Because potatoes are so temperature-sensitive, it's a good idea to let your goat cheese come up to room temperature before you mix it in. That way, when you add it to the potatoes you don't have to worry about it cooling them down. All you have to do is leave the goat cheese out on the counter with your milk, butter, and cream while the potatoes are boiling and by the time they're ready, the dairy will also be ready to go. Once you get everything all combined, serve your goat cheese potatoes while they're hot and sit back and wait for the compliments to come rolling in. Along with a few of Garten's best tips for making the holiday festive, a batch of goat cheese mashed potatoes will help to make the season bright.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.