Yep, we're doing 2015's hottest food trend to our mash now
OK, so we're nearing the end of the year now, and we've just about smoked everything in sight. Meat, vegetables, even drinks. But it looks like the best has been saved for autumn, and now we're shortly about to be diving mouth-first into a plate of smoked mashed potato.
"What? … How?" we hear you exclaim. "Can you even smoke a potato?" Look, all will be revealed, but you just need to know this right now: this is the best damn mash we've ever put in our pieholes.
One chef who's on the money with this dish is Toby Williams. He's spent 12 years working in restaurants like The Square and Kitchen W8, as well as heading up the chef team for the Mercedes Formula 1 crew. He's also spent time in iconic kitchens like Momofuku and The Gramercy Tavern in New York. Over the past two years, he's been behind one of our favourite supper clubs, Sabel, which puts on hearty British-produce feasts and banquets – and one of their signature dishes is the smoked mash.
"It's the ultimate comfort food, but made more exciting," says Toby. "It's a technique I learned at a couple of restaurants I've worked at over the years, but the first person who showed me it was Phil Howard at The Square. It's made by smoking the butter, which can be used for all sorts of things, but the smokiness of the butter just works so well with the mash."
The other secret of this mash? Baking the potatoes, rather than boiling them. Total game-changer.
Here's how to try this celestial dish at home, according to Toby:
1) DIY smoker
"You want to cold-smoke the butter, similar to the way you would smoke fish. So you create a smoking chamber, where the heat is away from where the butter is. You can do this at home, if you have an old pot that you're willing to ruin. First, you put a couple of blocks of butter in a small container into the pot."
2) Add wood chips and cover
"Then you burn some wood chips and once they're smoking, place them in metal dish and then into the pot. Then cling film it and seal it. Leave for a few hours."
3) Refrigerate the butter
"It shouldn't melt the butter, but if it does split, it's not the end of the world and you can still use it. It's better if it doesn't melt, then you can just store it in the fridge until you need it. It's good on bread, or added to ragus or whatever you'd like to do, but it's best in mash."
4) Bake, not boil, your potatoes
"Next, bake some Desiree potatoes. If you bake them rather than boiling them, it doesn't add any moisture, as if you boil it, it's wetter and washes out the flavour of the potato. If it's drier, you can put more fat into it, and the fat is the tasty bit. The more fat you put into it, the more people go, 'Ooh, that's delicious!' Just don't tell them how much butter goes in to it, otherwise they'll be upset."
5) Mash those potatoes and add the smoked butter
"Now, to mash it. Scoop out the baked potato from their skins and mash with the butter. Then I add a little splash of milk to make it nice and creamy, then some salt, but no pepper."
6) Serve up
"Serve up, preferably with a beef dish. Beef is perfect with it, whether it's roast or braised. We might do a roast piece of beef, with glazed carrots and tarragon with the smoked mash, or, like in spring, we did braised beef cheek with morels and wild garlic with the mash. But it also would work well with a suitable type of fish, like a piece of cod.
"To me, smoking your mash takes beef and mash to the next level."
Basically, we're never going back to plain old mash again.
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