Elegant, easy and exquisite, these potatoes are the right choice for an Easter side
"Home with the Lost Italian" food columnist Sarah Nasello says her recipe for duchess potatoes will impress any dinner guest.
FARGO — Duchess potatoes are one of my favorite potato recipes for special occasions, and for good reason. Not only are they delicious, but they are also easy to make, elegant in appearance and can be made well in advance of serving.
These Cheddar and Chive Duchess Potatoes will pair beautifully with my Great-Grandma GooGoo’s Baked Easter Ham , and also work well with chicken dishes ( including last week’s Chicken Piccata recipe ).
Despite their royal name, at their essence, duchess potatoes are merely a dressed-up version of mashed potatoes that are piped into fancy, individual portions and finished in a high-heat oven. This extra step adds flair to the fluffy, mashed potatoes and gives them a wonderfully crisp and buttery shell.
I chose Yukon Gold potatoes for their bright yellow color and creamy nature, but Russet potatoes would also work well for this recipe. I peel the potatoes and then cut them into quarters to ensure that they will be evenly cooked.
Next, I place the cut potatoes in a large pot along with a tablespoon of kosher salt. Then, I fill the pot with water until it is about an inch above the potatoes and bring it to a boil. I cook the potatoes until they are tender enough to easily pierce with a fork without any resistance, and then drain them in a colander.
Once boiled, I pass the potatoes through a ricer into a blend of melted butter, heavy cream, salt and pepper (you can also use a hand-masher). I melt the butter with a whole clove of garlic, which I remove before adding the other ingredients. This step adds just a gentle hint of garlic without overpowering the creamy tang created by the cheese, butter and cream.
A pinch of nutmeg is often included, as in my recipe, and for this occasion I have also added sharp white cheddar cheese and fresh chives to the mash. Before grating it, I place the cheese in the freezer for about 20 minutes to harden up, and then use my Microplane grater to finely grate it.
You can substitute the cheddar and chives for any semi-hard, good melting cheese and herb combination, or simply leave them out altogether.
Next, I beat four egg yolks into the mixture before piping the mash into decorative mounds. The egg yolks add a rich creaminess to the mashed potatoes, and also help them hold their shape in the oven.
The last step before baking is to pipe the mashed potatoes into stylish, swirled mounds, and I use a large piping bag fitted with a large open star tip (Ateco tip No. 828) for this task and then brush them with melted butter. Any large open tip will work, or you could also shape the mounds by hand — their individual portions will ensure a charming result, no matter how you do it.
I bake the potatoes bake at 425 degrees until they are golden brown and crispy around the edges.
Delightfully pleasing to the eye and palette, if you are looking for an easy, make-ahead potato side dish for your next special occasion, these Cheddar Chive Duchess Potatoes are a terrific choice. Enjoy.
Cheddar and Chive Duchess Potatoes
Makes: 12 individual portions (serves 6 to 12)
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3 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled and root end trimmed (optional)
¼ cup whole milk or heavy cream
¼ teaspoon finely ground black or white pepper
½ cup white cheddar cheese, finely grated (Gruyere, mozzarella or other semi-hard cheese also good)
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a large piping bag with a large, open-star tip and set aside (you may also use a large round tip or a plastic freezer bag with the end cut off).
Place the quartered potatoes in a large pot with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt. Fill the pot with water until it reaches 1 inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender enough for a fork to pierce through with ease (no resistance), about 16 to 18 minutes.
Once fork-tender, drain the potatoes into a colander and place the empty pot back on the stove over medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with the whole garlic clove. Once the butter has melted, continue to cook for 2 minutes, then remove and discard the garlic clove.
Add the heavy cream or milk, the remaining teaspoon of kosher salt and the black pepper; bring to a simmer over medium-heat, then turn off the heat. Pass the warm potatoes through a ricer directly into the milk mixture or use a potato masher to mash them in until smooth.
Add the cheddar cheese, chives and nutmeg, and use a stiff rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir until melted. Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper as desired. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until well-incorporated.
Transfer the potatoes to the piping bag fitted with the star tip until ¾ full. Place the piping bag on a firm surface and use the side of your hand to smooth the potatoes down toward the end to remove any air pockets.
Pipe the potatoes into swirled mounds approximately 2 inches wide and 2 inches high, tapering the width with each upward swirl. Space each mound 1-inch apart. *At this stage, you can refrigerate the unbaked potatoes in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.
Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and then use all of it to generously brush the tops and sides of the potatoes.
Bake until the swirls on the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Check after 15 minutes — if the tops are turning brown too quickly, reduce heat to 400 and continue baking until done. (My tops are always darker than the sides.) Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
- Baked duchess potatoes may be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days, then reheated in the oven at 375 degrees until hot.
- To freeze unbaked duchess potatoes, pipe them onto the baking sheet and place the sheet in the freezer for 2 hours, or until hard to the touch. Transfer the potatoes to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.
- Duchess potatoes are versatile: for a plain version, skip the garlic, cheese and chives, or swap them out for your favorite cheese and herbs.
- Save the egg whites to use in other recipes, like my Coconut Macaroons, Meringue Kisses and Angel Food Cake, or omelets.
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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.
“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at email@example.com.