That Julia Child really knew what she was talking about.
I love Julia Child. I love that she cooks high quality, gourmet food without an ounce of pretentiousness. She believed in good food and making cooking accessible to everyone. Amen. But although I revere Julia Child, I don’t often use her recipes anymore. I find them too complicated, taking three steps to do something that I would do in one. So when my daughter told me she was making Julia Child’s garlic mashed potatoes for a semester-end project for her culinary arts class, I had mixed feelings.
If I were making garlic mashed potatoes, I would roast the garlic in some foil, make the mashed potatoes and then squeeze the roasted garlic into the potatoes and mix it all together. Julia said to braise the garlic in butter and then simmer in cream and puree. This involves peeling all the garlic cloves before you braise, obviously, which seems like way more work than roasting the garlic in the skin. My version of mashed potatoes involves a masher — which doesn’t give you smooth potatoes, but it’s good enough for me. Julia prefers a ricer.
Since this was for a school project for a teacher who idolizes Julia Child, my daughter stuck to the recipe. We don’t have a ricer, but we do have a food mill which gives the same outcome. It so happens that I bought this food mill specifically for mashed potatoes I was making for a dinner party. They may even have been garlic mashed potatoes. She did the garlic braising and pureeing thing, put the potatoes in the food mill, added the garlic mixture to the mashed potatoes, added some warm butter and cream, salt and white pepper, and voila — garlic mashed potatoes. I have to admit, they were fantastic. The flavor of garlic, butter, cream, and potatoes with the smooth texture was terrific. Maybe a little much for a weeknight dinner, but definitely worth the effort for a dinner party or weekend dinner.
I’m sorry that I doubted you, Julia.