Make-Ahead Baked Mashed Potatoes
Even though my job is all about cooking, I rely on make-ahead dishes as much as the next person. Ironically, aspects of The Fountain Avenue Kitchen often keep me away from the kitchen; and then there are the day-to-day responsibities that we all have, be it kids’ activities, volunteer work, appointments, walking the dog, cleaning the house…you know what I mean!
So, as it occurred to me that I was rather behind in my holiday preparations and I will be hosting 20-plus people very soon, the time was perfect to make these make-ahead baked mashed potatoes. The above photo was taken pre-baking–that is to say, without the final, golden crust created by baking with the Parmesan and butter–because I am going to do exactly what the recipe says you can do…freeze them!
It is always a treat to have the work completely finished, save the final pop into the oven. Though for years I made this recipe with sour cream and cream cheese, more recently I have been using 2% Greek yogurt and Chèvre. An interesting side note: cream cheese is made from the fat of cow’s milk. Chèvre is a similarly soft cheese that is made from whole goat’s milk. This was explained to me by the purveyor of a local goat cheese at our farmers market, and I thought it was an interesting bit of information. The result is that Chèvre is 50% lighter than cream cheese while being a great alternative for those who cannot tolerate cow’s milk. Most importantly, I like the flavor.
All that said, you may certainly make this dish with cream cheese and sour cream as I have done many times. The final dish will puff up a bit during the final baking and taste delicious. One of my friends makes this recipe for Thanksgiving every year. She triples the recipe and uses the crock pot method, mentioned below, instead of baking. Her family is full of diehard mashed potato fans, and she says these are the hit of her meal.
While I quite like the addition of chives, when I am cooking for a group which includes a lot of kids or mashed potato purists, I omit them. My favorite part is the Parmesan crust on the bottom…as well as the fact that the all the messy pots have been long cleaned by the time we enjoy these. I hope you agree!
One of my favorite elements of this recipe is the crispy Parmesan crust! This amount of potatoes will feed approximately 10-12 people. The recipe may easily be cut in half and does freeze well making it a great do-ahead entertaining option. If you would like some for now and some for later, prepare in two 9-inch pie plates or 8-inch square baking dishes and freeze one. See notes for slow cooker option.
- 1 5-pound bag baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (about 8-10 potatoes)
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened (divided use, see note)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided use)
- 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt (may substitute sour cream)
- 8-ounces Chèvre (may substitute cream cheese)
- 1/3 cup chives, optional
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I like 2 teaspoons salt and about 1/2 teaspoon pepper)
- Put the potatoes in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Drain well.
- Rub a 9×13 baking dish with 2 tablespoons of butter, and then sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, making sure the cheese is evenly distributed.
- Put the potatoes in a large bowl (preferably the bowl of a stand mixer) and add the Greek yogurt, Chèvre, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and the chives, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
- Using an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment if you have one), beat the potatoes until smooth and light, being careful not to over mix as the starch in the potatoes can cause them to become gluey if mixed too long.
- Transfer the potatoes to the prepared dish and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- At this point, you can cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 or 3 days or wrap well and freeze for up to a month.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake until the potatoes are golden and hot throughout. If the potatoes have been frozen or refrigerated, thaw and bring to room temperature before baking. If the potatoes are cold, extra time will be needed to heat through.
Instead of dotting the final 2 tablespoons butter over the top of the casserole prior to baking, you may drizzle with your favorite olive oil.
These potatoes may be mixed and then transferred to a slow cooker with a ceramic insert instead of baking in the oven. Simply butter the insert and dust with cheese as directed in the recipe. Add the potatoes, cover, and cook on Low for 4 to 6 hours or until heated through. Top with the extra butter and Parmesan and serve from the slow cooker.