Choosing between flavor and fat is always a trade-off for cooks.
Cynthia Ware has a way to have both flavorful mashed potatoes and cut down on the fat.
Ware, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, has owned a bakery-restaurant and taught culinary classes for eight years.
She is developing a culinary job training program for adults at the Fortin Culinary Center of the Billings Food Bank.
Some of her classes have included ways to use leftover holiday mashed potatoes.
A mashed potato soup pairs two favorite leftovers — mashed potatoes and turkey stock.
She starts with great-tasting mashed potatoes.
Ware likes to use red potatoes because they have a tender skin that doesn't need to be peeled.
She prepares two red potatoes per person and then adds a few extra to allow for leftovers.
After washing them well, she chops the potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. She puts them in a large pot of cold water and throws in a generous handful of salt. Adding salt to cooking water means that not much salt is needed later.
Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to an active simmer so the potatoes don't fall apart.
When they can be easily pierced with a knife, they are done. Pour them into a large colander set in the sink. Let them sit and dry until they are no longer steaming, then return them to the pan.
Use a hand masher to break them up.
“Here the path forks,” Ware wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette. “We all know how wonderful mashed potatoes are with lots of butter and cream, but not all of us can eat that way any longer.”
She suggests using some butter for flavor, then replacing milk or cream with turkey, chicken or vegetable stock.
Add enough stock to get the right consistency.
“They should mound nicely on a plate without spreading out and also be willing to leave the serving spoon without a serious whack.”
Season the potatoes to taste with salt and pepper.
“Use white pepper if you're a purist,” she said.
When Ware mentioned in class using leftover mashed potatoes in a soup, it drew “furrowed brows and squinty eyes” from some her culinary students.
“But its variations are many,” she said. “It need never be the same soup twice. It's always new, always fun and always a wonderful means of reinventing leftovers. It works equally well with mashed white potatoes or sweet potatoes.”
Start on a morning after Thanksgiving so the stock has the day to cook down to a delicious flavor concentration.
First peel off most of the remaining meat, but leave some meat to flavor the stock. Also leave the wings and meat on the back of the bird.
Put the carcass in a large stock pot along with six peeled carrots and six stalks of trimmed and washed celery cut into 1-inch pieces. Add four yellow onions, quartered. (Leave the skins on for the beautiful color they will add, but trim off the root end.) Put the pot on the stove and add enough cold water to cover everything by 3 inches.
Add a couple of bay leaves.
Turn heat on high and cover the pot. When stock comes to a boil, remove the lid and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Simmering it gently keeps the turkey and vegetables from cooking too fast and disintegrating, which would give the stock a muddy look.
“Let it simmer for the day — literally!” Ware said.
“The stock is finished cooking when you taste it and it does not taste at all watery and has a rich, deep flavor that makes you say, 'Ooooooh!' “ Ware said.
Set a bowl large enough to hold a large colander in the sink. Carefully pour the stock into it. Lift the colander and let the stock finish draining. Discard contents of the colander.
Rinse the stock pot.
To remove all fine particulates, pour the stock back into the pot through a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth or use a very fine-mesh strainer.
Set the colander or strainer in a large bowl (you may need a second person to hold the strainer for you) and pour the stock through it for the last time.
Reheat the leftover mashed potatoes. The microwave works great for this. Be sure to stop after every minute or so and stir the potatoes. Add a little stock as they reheat.
Shredded cheddar cheese and diced green onions may be added.
Season turkey stock to taste with salt and pepper, and reheat it a little if needed.
Add to the stock leftover Thanksgiving vegetables or a can of black beans drained and rinsed or a thawed bag of frozen corn.
Use a large ice cream scoop or a large spoon and place a generous serving of potatoes in the center of each soup bowl. Ladle stock over potatoes. Serve immediately.