Jazz Potatoes

February 14, 2011

Hey, this is Piña Colada, back again for a post.

In English class, we have been discussing the 1920s, a time of turbulence and change in American history, when jazz arose as the soundtrack to the modern era. In conjunction, we are reading The Great Gatsby, and we even got to learn the Charleston, in a very hot, crowded speak-easy atmosphere, minus the alcohol (a.k.a. the English room).

 

The pot of potatoes boils away on the stove.

Going right along with jazz, this week in cooking we got to make Bacon Cheese Mashed Potatoes. For me, potatoes have always been a bland food. Put as much butter on them as you like, add ketchup, and somehow they still soak it all in and end up dry. Mashed potatoes are better, but not much. Then, I discovered the Bacon Cheese Mashed Potatoes, or as I like to think of them, jazzed up potatoes. No longer are potatoes dry and boring! This recipe rocked my opinion of potatoes. They suddenly became an amazing treat, and I probably could have eaten a whole plate of them.

So, how did we accomplish this amazing feat? We divided and conquered, racing the clock to try and broil steak and make the potatoes in the same 55 minute period. It all started at the most basic level, with the chopping and boiling of the potatoes by one group. Dr. Pepper braved the heat and seasoned and seared the steak. Meanwhile, Crazy Cooking Joe was hard at work, chopping a perfect cube of parsley and mixing it into combined butter.

Crazy Cooking Joe mixes the herbs to make combined butter.

I was in charge of laying out the bacon on a pan so it could cook. The hardest part was making it all fit properly, and getting the whole package worth on one sheet, because I didn’t want to be left with just a couple of strips at the end. I also learned how to chop chives, a much easier herb to chop than parsley, and was in charge of measuring out all the whipping cream and sour cream. Don’t forget the difference between wet and dry measuring cups—if you want to learn from my mistake, make sure to use a wet measuring cup for whipping cream, and a dry one for sour cream, which, although it is semi-liquid, levels better in a dry cup.

Me chopping and measuring the chives.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time just as the steak, potatoes and bacon were finishing up, so we missed the fun mashing part. However, we got to enjoy it all at lunch time. I took one bit of the potatoes and was totally hooked. I could have eaten a lot of them, with their rich creaminess and bacon flavor. The food was much appreciated not only by the cooking kids, but also by our classmates who benefited as well! This is definitely the best way I know to eat potatoes.

If you want to “jazz up” your own potatoes, here’s the recipe:

BACON CHEESE MASHED POTATOES

Recipe by: Emeril

Ingredients:

8 baking potatoes such as russets, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning

1 cup heavy cream

8 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

16 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

1 pound sharp cheddar, grated

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Directions:

Place the potatoes and 2 teaspoon salt in a heavy 4-quart saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and return to the cooking pot. Add the cream, butter, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.

Place the pan over medium-low heat and mash with a potato masher to incorporate the ingredients and achieve a light texture, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bacon, grated cheese, sour cream, and chopped chives and stir until thoroughly combined. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

BACON

Ingredients:

16 slices bacon

aluminum foil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy. Allow to cool and crumble on a paper towel.

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