Friday, May 28, 2010

I Am A Man

I have a confession to make.  Bless me George Foreman, for I have sinned.  I'm kind of embarrassed about it.  My face is all kinds of sheepish at the moment.

Last week was my first time grilling.

Seriously!  I mean, I've eaten my fair share of grilled food, and some of it has even come out of my own backyard, but never prepared by me.  It was always Husband up to this point.  And since he doesn't do much of the cooking, my poor grill hasn't seen much use for the last few years.  Grilling always kind of scared me.  It's so...flamey!  And hot!  And I was afraid I would burn my face off, which if you know me, was actually a real possibility.  Still is.  I'm rather clumsy, did you know?  Plus, it's kind of a man thing, right?  Meat!  Fire!  Cook!  Eat!  Good!  Well last week I finally manned up and successfully grilled some awesome food.  It was so awesome in fact, that I went back and did it again...and again...and...I can't stop!  It just gets so hot, and charred.  Love me some char.  My name is Julie, and I am a grilling bad-ass.

And bonus?  Grilling also apparently makes me happy.  Picture it.  Last Saturday.  Husband, the puppers (my Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Theo (aka: Goofball McTroublemaker)), and I chilling and grilling in the backyard on a gorgeous Spring day.  Husband turning some vegetables on the grill, munching some bread and cheese, while I, nursing a glass of red wine, kicked the ball around for Theo to fetch.  That's my idea of a perfect day.  A little sad, but completely true.

But I don't want to talk about everything I grilled last week.  I just want to talk about one thing.  Potatoes.  Grilled.  Mashed.  These were the best mashed potatoes I have ever made.  For serious.  Let me tell you all about them.

First, I used red potatoes.  Russets work great and all, but I just have a thing for red potatoes.  They are so buttery and delicious.  And leave the skins on!  That's where all the nutrients are!  Do you know what nutrients taste like?  Deliciousness.  If your taste sensors aren't too deadened by constant exposure to processed ickiness, they respond to nutrients because your body needs them.  That's how we  survived in the wild and stuff!  So leave 'em on.  You won't even know they're there, except for the yumminess they impart to the dish.

Second, I sliced the potatoes into 1/2 inch slices for maximum surface area exposure.  More exposure means more char-grill taste and even cooking.  Win.  Then Husband did something that can only be classed as genius.  And really, it's too bad this idea didn't pop into my head, given the subject matter of this blog, but as long as my tummy ultimately got to reap the benefits, it's all good.  See, we wrapped the potatoes in a foil bundle once they were good and charred because they still needed a little cooking to be a mashable consistency.  I piled the potatoes on the foil, and right before I closed it up, Husband had the bright idea to dump the contents of my wine glass in with the potatoes. A wine marinade!  See what I mean?  Genius!

Did I mention there was garlic involved?  Roasted.  Two heads.  Now if you're not completely gaga over garlic like I am, don't be scared!  Garlic seriously sweetens and mellows when it's roasted, so you get that great garlic taste without it punching in the face.  If you're still not into it I would suggest first, that you never come over to my house to eat, and second, that you do just one head.  You won't be sorry.

I wanted to top the potatoes with a gravy, but I was completely out of stock of any kind.  Sad, I know.  So I ended up just doing onions and mushrooms cooked in as much red wine as I could spare from my own glass (not much, it's my preciouussssss), but the recipe below is for what I would have used, had I the proper ingredients on hand at the time.  I hesitate to call it a gravy because I have an irrational fear that some Southern person is going to read this post and reach through the series of tubes that make up the interwebs and kick my butt for daring to call it gravy when it is not real gravy.  I have no idea what makes gravy gravy, so I'll just call it a sauce.  I am such a peace maker. 

What I really love about this dish is that it was completely improvised, but surprisingly successful.  Earlier in the day Husband had made a comment that he hadn't had mashed potatoes in a while, and the seed was planted.  Later that day at the store I saw red potatoes at a great priced and figured I do something with them.  When I got home we fired up the grill for other purposes, and I thought, what the heck.  Grill the potatoes while we're at it.  And by the time the sun went down, we were eating the best mashed potatoes I have ever made.  Delicious and fulfilling all at the same time.

What makes these so good is that that smoky flavor you get from grilling the potatoes first.  You don't need to add two sticks of butter to make it taste like anything because it tastes like awesomeness before you even go to mash it!  Husband and I may had sneaked a potato or two from the batch before it became the mashed dish you see below.  When was the last time you sneaked a boiled russet, huh?

Julie's Favorite Mashed Potatoes
(aka: grilled red wine roasted garlic mashed potatoes with caramelized onion and mushroom gravy sauce)

Makes about 8 servings (6 if you're a side dish piggy like me)

For the potatoes:
3 lbs red potatoes
2 heads garlic
olive oil
1/4 cup red wine (white works too)
2 TB butter
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
2 large sweet onions, quartered then sliced
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1 cup red wine
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 TB balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
For the potatoes:
  1. Slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices. Toss with about 1 TB of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to coat.
  2. Cut the top off the heads of garlic to expose the top of the cloves. Place each head individually on a square of aluminum foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, and pinch the foil closed so it encases the head of garlic. Place these on a cooler part of the grill and forget about them, or alternatively, place in a 400 degree oven for about an hour.
  3. Grill the potato slices over medium heat until both sides have nice and dark grill marks, and a deep golden color. The longer these grill, the stronger grill flavor the final dish will have. I even let some of my slices get a little charred because I'm into that sort of thing.
  4. Once the slices are grilled, get a big sheet of aluminum foil, dump all the potatoes in the center, pour in the red wine, and pinch up the ends so you have a big enclosed bundle. Let this sit on the grill on low heat with the cover down.  This will let the potatoes cook until they reach mashability and infuse them with a rich wine flavor.
  5. Don't forget to check on your garlic! It's ready to come off the grill when it's soft to the touch. This for me happened to be the same amount of time it took to cook the potatoes.
  6. When the potatoes are fork tender, place them in a bowl, and while still warm, add the butter, yogurt, and buttermilk. With a potato masher, pulverize the mixture! The potatoes may have developed a bit of a crispy crust from the grilling, so initially it takes a little muscle to get the ball rolling, but don't worry, it gets easier once you break that crust down. Mash until it's the consistency you like.   It'll need more liquid than regular mashed potatoes because so much has cooked out during the grilling process.  I just kept adding buttermilk until it was creamy enough for my liking.  Add a little more salt and pepper to taste, as well as the roasted garlic. You can either tediously peel each clove, or just squeeze at the bottom until it squirts out like a tube of toothpaste.  

For the sauce:
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 TB of olive oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sweat them until they give off all their water.  Before the onions start to brown, turn the heat down to low and cook until they fully caramelize and reach a rich, golden color, about 45 minutes to an hour.  You may need to increase the heat to medium-low if they still have a lot of moisture.  The trick is to make sure they don't brown.
  2. In a separate pan over medium heat, and add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms give off their water and cook down, about 10 minutes.
  3. Clear a little spot in the mushroom pan and add the butter. When it has melted add the flour, and stir to combine into a paste. Let this cook for a minute or two to cook off the raw flour taste, then deglaze the pan with the red wine. After a couple of minutes when most of the wine has cooked down, add the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, and caramelized onions, and let the mixture simmer until a nice, thick sauce forms.
  4. Serve this over your grilled mashed potatoes, top with some fresh parsley, and enjoy!

PS: I actually wrote up this entire post already once today, and in the course of events, mostly involving blogger being a complete tool (ha!  get it!?), it was all completely lost.  This post, naturally, pales in comparison to the work of art that was the original post.  Try as I might, I just can recreate the magic.  I hope this didn't come off as too ho hum.  


  1. My god, that sounds delicious. What are you doing this weekend? Maybe you should make me some. ;_)

  2. Yum those sound so good! I've never thought about using grilled (or even baked) potatoes for mashing! I'll have to try it sometime, since my husband makes AWESOME grilled potatoes (because, I too have never used a grill.. Just my cast iron skillet/grill combo on the stove.. fire is scary!).

    Oh and P.S.: Download "Strangers on a Train" by Lovage sometime, and you'll understand while I am still giggling about the title of your post :)

  3. I realized that I gave you the wrong song name... so nevermind.. I suck. :)

  4. Wow... these are amazing.. the photos are so good that I am thinking of ripping my computer screan just to get to this.

  5. Jason, next time I make these, I'll be sure to let you know. Chris might not let you in though. He's very possessive of his potatoes!

    Kelly, I got the idea from Husband's dad. He grills everything, which is fine by me because I love me some char! Hehe, you don't suck! What was the right song?

    Polwig, thanks! Whip some up yourself and your monitor will thank you! ;)

  6. This looks delicious!! Haha and don't feel bad for cheating on your George Foreman!

  7. You have to buy the book "Taming the Flame" by Elizabeth Karmel. That was my first grilling book and it taught me everything I know. Hooray for girls at the grill! Also, those potatoes sound amazing!