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September 3, 2008

Combating the Blandness of Mashed Potatoes


Let us start out with a problem. You peel some potatoes. You peel more potatoes. You peel yet more potatoes. Having started out, you continue to peel potatoes, until you are literally neck-deep in bald, white tubers.


Terrified at the prospects of being buried under peeled potatoes, you boil and begin mashing them with milk and butter. You mash them and mash them and mash them until you suspect your neighbors have called the police.


You can eat the potatoes, adding whatever you like to them to suit your personal tastes. Odds are, however, that if you’ve found yourself mashing potatoes for an extended period of time that you have mashed too many potatoes.


Undoubtedly, the question arises as to how to eat those mashed potatoes without boredom. Mashed potatoes by themselves are as bland to the taste buds as they are to the eyes. It is for this reason that the entire family of gravies was brought into existence.


The thought is likely to strike you at some point that perhaps what you should have done in the first place was to fry these potatoes in oil. It may be no different in concept than eating meal after meal of mashed potatoes, but one thing remains consistent – food that is cooked in hot oil is somehow more appealing to us than food that is not.


We have now committed two acts of bad storytelling. We have created an overly burdensome back story, a tale of frightful overabundance that threatens to shatter your very sanity, and we have also clumsily foreshadowed what will happen. It is for these reasons that your humble forgiveness is now sought.


Brown chorizo sausage with onion and finely diced jalapeno pepper. Transfer to a bowl with as little oil as possible.


In the same pan in which you just browned the chorizo, now pour some canola oil. You are perhaps wondering why canola oil. The reason is that it has the highest threshold for converting mere heat into a grease fire. Heat the oil over high heat and tap your head. You are thinking ahead.


Place some mashed potatoes on top of your chorizo, onions and peppers. Cut up some cilantro and place that into the bowl, too. Now, with your hands (depending on how you feel about exposed flesh and oil from hot peppers, perhaps your hands have gloves on them), squeeze them all together. The mixture should lean heavily on the mashed potatoes.


When mixed, break into individual serving sizes and pat down into inch-thick patties.


By now the oil has heated and is perhaps about to start smoking. Lay the patties into the oil. There will be sizzling. Do not be frightened, this is normal.


After a few moments, turn over in the oil and allow to cook for a few moments. Top with grated cheddar cheese and cover until the cheese is melted. Lift out and move to a paper towel-covered plate and allow to drain and cool for awhile before eating.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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