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I cannot imagine a Thanksgiving meal without mashed potatoes. After a few decades of Thanksgivings, I have reached the stage where I can swap out the turkey for duck or maybe a stuffed pork roast, but there absolutely has to be mashed potatoes. I actually put that into my marriage contract with Suzen. It was easy, no objection on her part, and I have always secretly believed that she wanted the condition anyway.

There are many ways to mash potatoes. And countless recipes. That basic recipe with potatoes, butter and milk is fine. You can go down the French route where there is more butter than potatoes. You can use cream instead of milk, add herbs, add cheese, add cheeses, — or do all of the above. The variations are infinite. The results graciously pleasing in almost any form.

Here is the combination that Suzen and I will be making this Thanksgiving. We’ll have turkey and gravy on the table but on these special mashed potatoes — crafted with roasted mushrooms and goat cheese — we are using a custom butter containing roasted garlic, shallots, mustard, honey and bourbon.

These mashed potatoes will be smashing. My first bite on that Thursday will not be the turkey.

Remember the cardinal rule: do not mash your potatoes with a mixer. Get a simple hand masher and apply a little elbow grease. Which potatoes and mushrooms should you use? Russets are suggested below, but you might enjoy a change by using another potato variety. And the mushrooms can be the selection of your choice.

These recipes are from Recipes from Home, by Barbara Shinn and David Page. The butter is exactly their recipe. I’ve changed the potato recipe to add goat cheese. I looked at the pair of recipes and decided that with mushrooms, garlic, parsley, shallots, mustard, honey and bourbon, well, there just wasn’t enough flavor.

Does this all sound crazy or delicious?

You know, you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving.

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Yield: serves 6


  • 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, such as portobello, shiitake, and/or cremini, trimmed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 6 garlic cloves, peeled 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons [¾ stick] unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup goat cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the mushrooms in a large baking dish, coat them with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and roast until the mushrooms are tender, about 35 minutes. Let cool, then cut them into ½-inch dice.

Place the potatoes, garlic, and the 1 teaspoon kosher salt in an 8-quart pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes and bring the water to a gentle boil. Cook the potatoes until they are tender. Drain, return them to the pot, and stir over medium heat for 1 minute to dry the potatoes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the butter is melted. Add the hot milk mixture to the potatoes, add the goat cheese, and mash with a potato masher until the milk is incorporated and the potatoes are smooth. Fold in the roasted mushrooms and chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Source: Recipes from Home from Barbara Shinn and David Page

Roasted Garlic and Bourbon Butter

Yield: makes ¾ cup


  • 8 tablespoons [1 stick] unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons Roasted Garlic Puree
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place all the ingredients in a food processor and combine until smooth.

Source: Recipes from Home from Barbara Shinn and David Page