Again, I'm terrible with quantities because I cook by intuition, but here's a list of possible ingredients:
- potatoes for mashing (you don't need big baking russets, I like Yukon Golds)
- butter (or vegan substitute) - I use Kerrygold
- cream (optional)
- salt & pepper
- greens (cabbage would be traditional, but just about anything will do; I'll explore options down below)
- vinegar (optional)
- garlic (optional)
Rinse your taters, and peel only half of them (but still check for and cut out any growing eyes or cuts, etc.). Cut them into cubes about 1", put them in a pot and cover them by an inch with water, bring to a boil and salt to taste, but it should be pretty salty.
Now, here's the real secret to creamy mashed potatoes: overboil those suckers!* Really, I have to stop myself from doing this when I intend to make potato salad and the like. So cook them not just until they soften, but until the water becomes a cloudy broth-like liquid.** Pour off (but reserve!!!) most of that liquid, but you can leave a few tablespoons in the pot.
Add your butter (or sub), a little more salt if needed, and black pepper. If you're going to add some crushed garlic, now is the time. You can add cream if you want, or just use some of that cooking liquid to pour back in as you mash. Although, really, the potatoes should be so soft you are pretty much mashing them by stirring! In fact, I hardly use a masher and never need a mixer/immersion blender, but I like a chunky mash. You can absolutely whip them if that's in your nature.
Now for the greens:
- Boiled or sauteed cabbage is tradish, but today (because it's me) I used some collard-green kimchi. That means I didn't add any garlic or onion or vinegar.
- If I were using cabbage, I'd probably saute it (dry at first for a little char, then putting a lid on and letting it sweat with a little oil or butter, but not a lot) and add a little vinegar at the end before adding to the taters. I'd put garlic and some green onion (or ramps, can't wait) in the mash. If I was using kale it would go just like that too.
- If I were using something like arugula/rocket/spinach, I would probably just let the heat from the hot mash wilt them a little and call it a day, with maybe a little vinegar drizzle.
- If (when) I'm using bitter greens, I'd just make a kilt salad with bacon grease on its own and mix it in.
- Go nuts (but taste as you go)!
Traditionally - well, modernly, actually - this would be served with lamb or beef. I like to serve it with salmon or other fish, which was probably once actually traditional (I mean, Ireland is an island). Because here's the recipe note you didn't know you didn't want -
St. Patrick's day is yet another holiday that probably celebrates genocide, or at least oppression. The Sunday School version is that St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland. In reality, St. Patrick's legend is larger than one man's life - it has become the symbol of removing paganism from Ireland. (Either way, it was really about creating a Christian holiday to take the place of a pagan one....) Eventually the tables turned - after the formation of the Anglican church, nobililty in Ireland was largely Protestant while the poor tenant farmers remained Catholic. Putting the majority of their time and energy into producing cash crops for their ruling nobles not only left no time for fishing, but made worse the repercussions of the Great Famine. A couple of generations later and the conditions were just right for the Easter Rebellion. So maybe "luck of the Irish" isn't always a good thing? I highly recommend Trinity (and its sequel) by Leon Uris, historical fiction that always gives me the feels about Irish history, decorative ironwork, and mules (just go read 'em).
*Not "boil over" - use the wooden spoon trick - lay a wooden spoon across your pot and it
keeps that starchy water from boiling over.
** OK, so we called this "gruel" when I was a kid and man I love my potato gruel but it sounds grosser than it is. I will absolutely drink a mug of this every time I make mashed taters, and I think I may have faked at least one scratchy throat to get a mug of it...