There's something primal about meat and potatoes. It's the all-American combination plate. There's something especially comforting about mashed potatoes in particular. What are the best versions of this dynamic duo?
Basic Mashed Potatoes
For a great meat and potatoes meal, start off with great mashed potatoes. Place chunks of potato (Yukon gold is especially smooth and naturally buttery) in boiling water to just cover them. Turn down the heat and simmer at just below boiling for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
Drain the potatoes and use a ricer, food mill or potato masher to mash them. Add a bit of milk or cream, butter, salt and pepper to the potatoes. Don't overmix but stir until they reach the desired consistency.
Meals That Go With Mashed Potatoes
The quintessential mashed potato meal is the traditional Thanksgiving feast, complete with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mashed potatoes with a goodly portion of gravy to bring it all together.
There are other classic meat and mashed potato meals too: roast beef and mash, meat loaf and mash, fried chicken and mash and creamed chipped beef or thick stew over mash, to name a few. You probably have your own favorite dish – one that warms your heart as well as your tummy.
Just as they are, mashed potatoes are a perfect bed for gravy made from the pan drippings of virtually any roast. Do keep in mind as you plan your menu that potatoes have a high starch content. Avoid adding even more starchy ingredients to your meal, such as white rice or pasta.
What’s Good With Mashed Potatoes?
Don't think of mashed potatoes as just another ordinary side dish. There are a ridiculous number of ways in which this versatile vegetable can be used as an accompaniment to a wide variety of meats.
There are many regional specialties featuring mashed taters and locally available meats. For example, pork roast with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes is a German standby, while in the United Kingdom, classic bangers and mash is made with pork sausage served with a rich onion gravy.
In the heartland of the United States, a favorite combination is chicken-fried steak with gravy and mash. This is a steak that has been breaded and sautéed and then smothered in a creamy gravy. In Scotland, folks favor haggis (a savory minced dish featuring sheep innards) with a mixture of mashed potatoes and turnips.
Main Dishes With Mashed Potatoes
Take mashed potatoes out of the sidelines and into the spotlight by incorporating them into your main dish. Shepherd's pie, for example, consists of ground meat – lamb or hamburger – sautéed with chopped vegetables and seasoning, topped with mash and baked until golden brown. There are innumerable variations on this theme, and many recipes are available online. With some eggplant and the right spices, you can also produce a version of Greek moussaka using mashed spuds.
To make a savory "deconstructed" chicken pot pie in the form of a casserole, combine chicken, peas, carrots and seasonings. Thicken the mixture with flour and top with mashed potatoes. Baked until browned. The potatoes provide a delicious "crust."
Meals Featuring Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have their own distinct flavor, which is quite amenable to the addition of spices and herbs. The sweetness of these tubers can stand up to and combine with strong seasonings such as chili pepper, cilantro, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, smoked paprika and cumin (though probably not in the same dish!).
For instance, a mixture of cumin, chili powder, thyme, garlic and Mexican oregano can turn mashed sweet potatoes into a Southwestern-style side dish for ground beef or grilled steaks. A satisfying Middle Eastern bowl can be put together by making a thick lamb stew using such enticing seasonings as cinnamon, garlic, cumin, cardamom and saffron and then ladling it over sweet potato and yogurt mash.
There are so many possibilities for mashed potato and meat meals, both traditional and original. Go with what you know, but don't be afraid to experiment.
- Good Housekeeping: 37 Ways to Make Mashed Potatoes Even More Amazing
- Real Simple: What to Do With Leftover Mashed Potatoes: 20 Easy Recipes
- BuzzFeed: 25 Heavenly Ways To Eat Mashed Potatoes
- Taste of Home: Recipes for People Who Can’t Get Enough Meat and Potatoes
- AllRecipes: 10 Delicious Dishes to Create With Leftover Mashed Potatoes
- Delish: Shepherd's Pie
- New England Today: Chicken Pot Pie with Herbed Mashed-Potato Crust