4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
15 sage leaves
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
4 tbsp brown butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
There’s nothing I love more than delicious mashed potatoes. I make them periodically with dinner, but not nearly as much as I’d like to. Whenever my mother-law-makes dinner for John and me, I always kindly suggest that she make me her mashed potatoes. I live for anything starchy. Mashed potatoes are definitely something that I expect to have for Thanksgiving dinner. If we don’t have mashed potatoes, I’m probably going to go into a deep food depression. I can’t be thankful if there’s no mashed potatoes for me to overindulge in. I’m totally fine with traditional ways of preparing and serving mashed potatoes—they’re classic. But if you’re looking for ways to amp up traditional mashed potatoes, I’ve got something really good for you today.
Sweet potatoes—do you like them? I love sweet potatoes, but I rarely mash them. What can I say, I’m dedicated to buttery Idaho potatoes. Last year, I did change the game just a little with caramelized onion potatoes, and those were a hit at home. That was last year, so in 2016, I want to outdo myself. But how does one outdo delicious caramelized onion mashed potatoes? Well, by starting with sweet potatoes and adding bourbon. My husband isn’t a huge fan of sweet potatoes unless they’re in a pie, but he’ll tolerate them most of the time if they’re close to perfect. I didn’t tell him that I was making mashed sweet potatoes; I just kept saying "mashed potatoes." I knew that if I added the word "sweet," he would be turned off and try to think of a substitute. Much to my surprise, he loved these. But who wouldn’t love these? They’re buttery with a little hint of bourbon and bacon crumbles on top. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Thanks to one of my favorite blogs, How Sweet Eats, you can easily recreate this delicious side dish tonight. (This recipe calls for brown butter. If you’re not sure how to prepare brown butter, How Sweet Eats has a great tutorial on how to make it.)
Add the potato chunks to a pot with cold water and bring to a boil; cook until the potatoes are tender. You should be able to easily break them with a fork.
While the potatoes are boiling, heat a skillet and add the chopped bacon; cook until crispy. I always eat a couple of pieces—it’s difficult to resist. Remove the bacon and place it on a paper towel so the oil drains. Remove about a tablespoon of the bacon fat from the skillet and set it aside in a small dish.
In the same skillet (with some of the bacon fat), add in the butter and heat. Add sage leaves and fry (about two minutes on each side). When they’re done, place them on a paper towel to drain.
The potatoes should be done around this time. Drain them, then mash. I like to use an electric mixer to whip my potatoes, but you can use whatever you like to whip them into shape.
Once you’ve whipped them, add in the reserved bacon fat, milk, bourbon and brown butter. Whip the potatoes again so everything is beautifully combined. Be sure to taste the potatoes and add salt or pepper, if needed.
Transfer to a serving dish, add the bacon bits and crumble the sage on top. If you’re not serving the potatoes immediately, How Sweet Eats suggests to top the potatoes with bacon, pop them in the oven (325 degrees) and bake for 25–30 minutes. When they’re done, add the sage crumbles on top.
There you have it—an easy, elevated way to serve mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner.
Shawanda Mason is the creator and blogger of Eat.Drink.Frolic. For recipe questions or to chat about eating, drinking or frolicking, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by following her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.