Luckily, the internet is a magical place, and I found a new recipe that utilized both required elements AND had a special twist: Romano cheese. I was a bit worried that my family wouldn't like the cheese--in fact, my sister tasted it right away--but it added such a depth of flavor to the potatoes, they didn't even need gravy! This will be my new go-to mashed potato recipe.
You will need:
5 pounds unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
1.5 sticks of butter, room temperature
5 ounces Romano cheese, grated
2-1/2 teaspoons salt (plus an extra pinch)
2-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Head of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 tablespoons of milk
First, while the original recipe didn't call for this, I decided to roast the garlic because raw garlic can have a strong flavor; roasted garlic is a more mellow and sophisticated flavor. To roast garlic is actually really easy, too. Simply preheat your oven to 400 degrees, cut off the heads of your garlic cloves, and remove all the extra layers of skin surrounding the cloves (just be sure to leave enough of the skin to hold the cloves together). Drizzle with olive oil, cover with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Break down of process here. Garlic will be soft and look carmelized when done! See here:
Mmmm...soft and yummy. While the garlic cools, put your potato water on to boil and quarter your potatoes. When the water is ready to go, add the potatoes and boil until soft. Make sure you set your butter out to soften by now--I always forget to do so, and it makes it so much easier to work with the butter when it is already soft. Grate the Romano cheese.
When the potatoes are ready, drain and place in a large bowl. Add butter and use a potato mashed to mash the potatoes and integrate the butter into the potatoes (apparently, you should always add the butter before the milk so the two can better bond--the things one learns while reading!). Add in cheese, salt (all of it except for the extra pinch) and oregano and mix well.
And now the fun part--the garlic. I saw this on both Rachel Ray and Giada DeLaurentiis's shows: carefully remove the cloves of garlic from the skin. Roughly chop the cloves and sprinkle with the pinch of salt. Then, using the wide, flat part of your knife, drag your knife across the garlic, smearing it into your cutting board and making a paste. Doing this ensures that everyone gets the taste of garlic in their potatoes without biting into a hunk of garlic. Add garlic paste to potatoes.
Finally, if potatoes are too thick, add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Serve warm and enjoy at your next holiday dinner!