Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

Obvi, gentle reader, there ain’t nothing wrong with straight-up meat and potatoes. But sometimes you just wanna switch things up a bit. Especially when you’re using a cheapo cut of beef, as I did the other night. I was grilling some none-too-tender, none-too-flavorful “steaks” (this is what I get for cheating on my Key Foods with a slightly closer, vastly inferior market) that had been halfheartedly rubbed in prepared churrasco seasoning, and figured that adding a spicy kick of jalapeno to the mashed potatoes would up the meal’s flavor profile—or simply sear our taste buds so that each gruelingly chewed bite of the meat would seem like a relief and not a letdown. Win-win, amirite?

I used 2 large new (purple) potatoes, peeling just enough to carve out any pockmarks and brown spots but leaving most of the skin on. For expediency and consistency’s sake, I roughly chopped them into cube-ish (not to be confused with Cubist) pieces and added them to a pot of salted water that I brought to a boil, then lowered to a vigorous simmer until the potatoes were fork-tender, maybe 15 minutes. (For mashed potatoes, I would always err on the side of cooking longer; it’s pretty hard to overcook them, but devastating if you undercook them.)

After draining the cooked potatoes, I added a pinch of sea salt, 2 Tbsp. butter, a dollop of sour cream, and maybe 1 Tbsp. jalapenos that I had blistered, peeled, cut into strips, jarred in olive oil, fished out of the jar, and diced. I mashed the mix together just with a straight hand masher, so the jalapenos broke up some but remained relatively intact; you could also use an immersion blender or food processor to puree them with butter and/or olive oil if you wanted a smoother, mellower, even-er taste/consistency.

My adopted son thought that the potatoes were too spicy and that the leathery half-inch-thick steak was too rare. My man liked the steak, but the potatoes were a little too feisty for him as well. Whatever. I ate the steak and potatoes with some radishes that had been salted, tossed in olive oil, and cooked in the toaster oven just enough to soften them; and some raw avocado slices spritzed with lime juice. The (honestly, fairly tough and tasteless) meat ended up being kind of a foil for the flavors and textures of the accoutrements, rather than the other way around. And there was nothing wrong with that.

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