Second Helpings: When the Boys Commandeer the Kitchen
How is February almost over when just yesterday was Christmas dinner?
Our tradition of sit-down Christmas dinners started in 1997, based on a suggestion — actually it was more of a command — by my dear friend Father Austin Ford. For years he hosted Christmas Eve dinner and thought it’d be nice to have Christmas Day dinner at our house.
It’s not one of those things where you say, let me think about it. You say, yes sir, I will. And I’ve done it ever since.
This year the boys took over and I was happy to step aside. Garnie’s husband Matt and his brother. Paddy, created the menu. Kara’s husband Micah and Quinn’s boyfriend, Lucas, who’s Matt’s childhood best friend and former roommate, helped with the dishes.
Homemade chicken liver pate. Little radishes with butter. Charcuterie. French onion soup. Salad with buttermilk vinaigrette. Prime rib. Roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Stuffed cabbage rolls. French mashed potatoes with lots of cheese.
For dessert, Quinn and Steve made their traditional chocolate roulade. When the girls took French classes years ago, they made a chocolate roulade with Steve and took it to class at the end of the year.
The boys made everything offsite and walked it over to my house. The only dirty thing in my kitchen was the dishes, which they washed at the Blue Eyed Daisy while I relaxed on the couch with a belly full of mashed potatoes.
French Mashed Potatoes with Cheese and Garlic (Aligot)
- Serves 6
- The finished potatoes should have a smooth and slightly elastic texture. White cheddar can be substituted for Gruyere. For richer, stretchier aligot, double the mozzarella.
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (4 to 6 medium), peeled, cut into ½-inch-thick slices,
- rinsed well, and drained
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium garlic gloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1-1½ cups whole milk
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) (see note)
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) (see note)
- Ground black pepper
- Table salt
Place potatoes in large saucepan; add water to cover by 1 inch and add 1 tablespoon salt. Partially cover saucepan with lid and bring potatoes to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender and just break apart when poked with fork, 12-17 minutes. Drain potatoes and dry saucepan.
Transfer potatoes to food processor; add butter, garlic and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Pulse until butter is melted and incorporated into potatoes, about ten 1-second pulses. Add 1 cup milk and continue to process until potatoes are smooth and creamy, about 20 seconds, scraping down sides halfway through.
Return potato mixture to saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir in cheeses, 1 cup at a time, until incorporated. Continue to cook potatoes, stirring vigorously, until cheese is fully melted and mixture is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. If mixture is difficult to stir and seems thick, stir in 2 tablespoons milk at a time (up to ½ cup) until potatoes are loose and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.