Monday, June 9, 2008
HOW TO MAKE FLUFFY, "BUTTERY", NO-FAT VEGAN MASHED POTATOES
A real down-home dinner- Red Pepper Grain Meatloaf (from the upcoming Field Roast Cookbook) with creamy mashed potatoes and vegan brown gravy.
Why mashed potatoes when it's almost summer, you may ask? Because it's bloody freezing here! I'm still craving cold-weather foods! But, anyway, it gives me a chance to share something I just learned from Cook's Illustrated magazine. This magazine, BTW, is not vegetarian, but you can learn alot about food science from it, as well as good tips about cookware, ingredients, etc.
I love mashed potatoes, but I'm not about to put a stick of butter (or even my new palm-oil-free homemade vegan "butter"!) into a 2 lb. batch of mashed potatoes! I've been making them fat-free for years now, but I thought they could use a little "face-lift", so-to-speak. Then, I happened to read an article in Cook's Illustrated. Although their goal was not to make tasty fat-free mashed potatoes, the article helped me do just that!
They discovered that using a different cooking method from boiling worked better. In addition, they advised using a potato ricer to make the potatoes fluffier. Now, I have never owned a potato ricer, and my husband had never heard of it and thought I was nuts, but, then, he's used to me chasing after kitchen gadgets that take my fancy! I had just been talking to Julie Hasson about potato ricers and she told me they make great mashed potatoes. The article clinched it-- I was off to the local kitchen shop and laid down my $20 or so (including tax!) for the nifty new model.
I often use Yukon Gold potatoes for mashed because they have a warm, slightly buttery look to them, and a rich flavor. And that's what the magazine recommended, for the same reasons. They added 1/4 cup of butter to their potatoes (instead of their usual 8 tablespoons!), but I didn't use any, and they were still yummy. That way, you can either use a fat-free vegan gravy and be really virtuous, or you can melt some vegan marge (Update; try my new palm-oil-free homemade vegan "butter") on top and still not be ingesting THAT much fat!
Here is what the author had to say about the cooking method:
"Gluey potatoes are a result of starch granules that swell with water and then burst during cooking, releasing a gel that turns potatoes sticky. Cooking the potatoes with their skins on protects the starch granules, reducing the guminess. To give peeled potatoes the same protection [the magazine's cooks were trying to avoid needing to peel freshly-cooked hot potatoes before mashing! BCG], we made two alterations to our usual technique. Steaming rather than boiling the potatoes exposes the potato pieces to less water, reducing the chance of the granules swelling to the point of bursting. Some granules, however, will inevitably burst; rinsing the potatoes midway through cooking removes the resultant gel. As a bonus, we found that this method requires less butter and dairy to achieve the same richness as conventional mashed potatoes."
It sounded a bit complicated, but it really wasn't! And the results were great! Give it a try!
FLUFFY FAT-FREE VEGAN MASHED POTATOES A LA COOK'S ILLUSTRATED (WW Core Plan-Compatible!)
To make these even richer-tasting, you can blend some extra-firm SILKEN tofu with your non-dairy milk to make a sort of fat-free cream. (Some people call for Silk Creamer, but I find that too sweet for mashed potatoes.) Another suggestion-- add some roasted garlic while mashing!
2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (4 to 6 medium), peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks, rinsed well, and drained
about 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 2/3 plain full-fat soymilk, or almond milk, warmed (2/3 cup made them a bit too soft for me, put that's a personal preference)
NOTE: You could also use hemp milk, if you like the taste-- it is quite creamy.
Freshly-ground black pepper
Place a metal colander or steamer insert in large pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water for it to barely reach bottom of colander. Turn heat to high and bring water to boil.
Add the potato chunks, cover, and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes.
Transfer the colander to the sink and rinse the potatoes under cold water until no longer hot, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, if you use a steamer, place it in a colander in the sink and rinse as instructed, then transfer the steamer back to the pot.)
Return the colander and potatoes to the pot, cover, and continue to cook until potatoes are soft and tip of paring knife inserted into potato meets no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Pour off water from Dutch oven.
ENERGY-SAVING ALTERNATIVE: Micro-steam the potato chunks in a covered microwave-safe casserole. The amount for this recipe, cut as instructed above and cook at 100% power for about 12 minutes total, rinsing as instructed above after 6 minutes, and then returning to the casserole to finish cooking. You do NOT need to add water to the casserole, BTW.
Set the potato ricer over now-empty pot. Working in batches, transfer the potatoes to hopper of ricer or food mill and process, removing any potatoes stuck to bottom. Press all the potatoes through the ricer into the pot. (Use a food mill if you don't have a ricer.)
Using a spatula, stir in the salt until well-mixed. Stir in the warm non-dairy milk until the consistency you prefer. Season to taste with more salt, if necessary, and freshly-ground pepper. Serve hot with fat-free vegan gravy!