Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas: Mashed Potatoes with Root Vegetable Puree

I don’t know about you, but for me Thanksgiving is about everything but the turkey.  Every Thanksgiving is the same.  You grab a little turkey, a little stuffing, some cranberry sauce, and your essential mashed potatoes with gravy.  Then, you stare at all the other sides – macaroni and cheese, perhaps some roasted brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, maybe creamed spinach – and you wonder how the heck you’re going to fit all of it in your stomach, let alone your plate.  Salad is simply a waste of time, and who even has room for dessert after all that?

Sure, you can get a great fresh, young, well raised turkey from a small farm.  Sure, you can brine it and roast it so that it’s perfectly juicy and delicious, but without all the trimmings, it would be really boring wouldn’t it?  There is so much tradition surrounding Thanksgiving, I like to keep the turkey preparation really simple – roasted on a bed of classic mirepoix, and the cavity stuffed with thyme, sage, and bay leaves.  People have such expectations and associations when it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m even nervous about messing with classic mashed potatoes. The rest of the sides though, leave room for a little fun and experimentation.

As usual I will be working and making dinner for 250 or so people on Thanksgiving day.  So Buddy and I celebrated a few days early.  It was good because it gave me a chance to try out some new recipes on a smaller scale (as in, dinner for two with leftovers for 4).  I started by playing with different stuffing recipes.  Last year I made cornbread stuffing for the first time, and this year I added some Smoky Maple Bacon, apples, and chestnuts.  Every year I make an orange cranberry compote, but this year I cooked in some orange rind as well as orange juice, so it was more of a marmalade.  For vegetables this year, I kept it really simple – Honey and Ginger Glazed Carrots, and Haricot Verts with Glazed Pearl Onions.

You’ll most likely want to stick to straightforward mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but if you and your guests are feeling adventurous, try adding a little root vegetable puree for a subtle yet flavorful departure.  I used parsnips, but rutabaga or celery root would work nicely too.

Mashed Potatoes with Root Vegetable Puree

INGREDIENTS, serves 4-6:

5-6 large russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 large parsnips (or 1 rutabaga, or 1 celery root), peeled and sliced thinly

1-1/2 c.  whole milk

1-1/2 c.  heavy cream

3-4  Tbsp. butter

salt & pepper


Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring water to a boil, and add a large pinch of salt.  Lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, place the parsnips (or other root vegetable) in a small saucepan.  Add just enough milk and cream in equal parts to cover the vegetables.  Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat immediately.  Add salt to taste, and simmer gently until the parsnips are cooked through, taking care not to burn the milk and cream on the bottom of the pot.  Puree the mixture with either a blender or an immersion blender until smooth.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and immediately mash or pass through a food mill or ricer.  Stir in the root vegetable puree, and butter.  Add more milk and cream as needed and add salt and pepper to taste.

Other useful recipes for the Thanksgiving table:

Maple Glazed Cornbread

Simplest Succotash

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

All Butter Pie Crust

Basic Braised Greens

Cardomom Pumpkin Tart

Classic Chicken Stock

2 thoughts on “Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas: Mashed Potatoes with Root Vegetable Puree

  1. So called waxy potatoes like red bliss and yukons are low sugar and high in starch, which makes them high in gluten and prone to the gummies. They make great chunky “smashed” potatoes, but are not a good choice for creamy smooth mashed potatoes. Your helper was probably not aware of that, and if you kept the potatoes hot before you mashed them, then I would say the pasty problem was most likely caused by overworking. Did you add butter and cream hot or cold? If you are not ready to mash your potatoes right away, it helps to also bring your butter and cream to a boil so they don’t make the potatoes cold either.


  2. Ha I did one of my fave root veggie mashes for Turkey day. Carrots and turnips. mmmm They were great, but my mashed potatoes came out looking really pasty as in, they looked like kindergarten paste. I’ve made them a million time and never had this happen.

    I used red bliss potatoes. Cute into big chunks [skin on] and boiled in salted water until tender. [which I always do] Then I left the burner off and kept the potatoes in the warm water so they wouldn’t cool down too much. [which I’ve never done] Then when it was time they were drained.

    My kitchen helper mashed them all up and then asked me what was to go in. I usually put the butter and cream and salt and pepper before mashing so they don’t get over glutified; so I warned her to fold them in gently in order not to over mix. At any rate they looked like glue [still tasted great though] but they definitely had a plasticene sheen on them.

    Was this a result of the over mixing? or letting them sit in the water for a few hours before draining?


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