This recipe grew out of necessity.
Or, rather, my failure to properly inventory the fridge before Thanksgiving day.
As I went to prepare my ultimate creamy mashed potatoes, I discovered I was out of heavy cream (oh, the horror!) After two pies and a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream and one carton tossed for being well past its prime, I didn’t have a single drop of usable heavy cream left at my disposal.
Luckily, what I did have was a tub of crème fraîche.
Which, as it turns out, makes for a damn fine mashed potato (if I do say so myself).
The cultured French cream (similar to sour cream but with a richer and more nuanced flavor) gives the potatoes a slight yogurty tang that really does wonders to cut the richness. Bonus? Crème fraîche is actually lower in fat than heavy whipping cream, while producing a far creamier final product.
Proof that sometimes mistakes can turn into blessings in disguise.
Tip for ultra-creamy mashed potatoes: use a food mill. Bonus: you don’t even have to peel the potatoes (because we all hate peeling potatoes). Just cut into chunks, boil until tender, and run through the food mill. The mill will essentially do the same job as a potato ricer, while removing the skins at same time.
Once the potatoes are milled, return them to the cooking pot on the still warm burner and add the butter. The residual heat from the pan will steam off any leftover moisture. Adding the butter first (before cream or in this case, crème fraîche, will prevent your potatoes from getting gluey).
Now, while you technically could use sour cream, I’d really encourage you to seek out the crème fraîche, or, better yet, make your own. Real crème fraîche has a milder, less sour flavor, plus a slightly higher fat content than sour cream (30% vs 20%) which results in a creamier final product. It also doesn’t have many of the stabilizers and thickeners that many American sour cream brands add to thicken their product.
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (peeled if not using a food mill)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- fresh chives, for topping (optional)
- Scrub potatoes well to remove any dirt, then peel (unless you are using a food mill to process, in which case you do not need to peel your potatoes). Cut potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on the size. You want approximately 1-inch size pieces (all fairly even in size so they will cook uniformly) and transfer to a bowl filled with cold salted water. You can prep and cut your potatoes a few hours ahead of time if necessary; keep covered in water to prevent browning.
- Boil potatoes in a large pot of generously salted water for about 15 mintues minutes or until fork tender (a fork inserted into a piece of potato should go in easily and the potato should somewhat break apart). Drain well.
- Run potatoes through a food mill placed on top of your still warm cooking pot on the still warm burner. The residual heat from the pot will evaporate out any excess moisture from the potatoes. If you don’t have a food mill, run potatoes through a potato ricer, or place in the pot and mash with a potato masher until smooth.
- Add butter and stir until melted, then add crème fraîche. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm, topped with a sprinkle of fresh chives if desired.
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