Years later, I marshaled enough courage to try real, creamed, unmashed red potatoes. These are from New England, and they were on the right side in the war. They’re not just milk splashed onto boiled spuds. They’re closer to our well-liked Midwestern scalloped potatoes, but the sauce is a rich gravy loaded with butter.
One thing I’ve learned: Don’t argue regional food over two beers on a hot afternoon.
I had thoroughly prepped us on Southern cuisine before our trip. One of the many things I mentioned was that “creamed” potatoes are –– surprise –– just mashed potatoes. My New York Times cookbook warned there are no mashed or smashed potatoes down there; only creamed, which are the same as mashed in the civilized world.
So we’re in this little place, and it’s hot, and I’ve had two Buds, and there it is on the menu: creamed potatoes.
Ha, ha, ha. Bet waitress Emily thinks they’re putting one over on us. (There’s still this Southern attitude that they won the war.)
“I’d like mashed potatoes,” I said.
“We don’t have ’em. Only creamed.”
Wink, wink. “OK, that’s fine.” So she comes back with diced red potatoes in a cream sauce. The frown on my face told the story.
“What happened to mashed?” I said.
“We don’t have ’em. Only creamed,” she said. Think of the money they save on potato peelers.
Well, now I’m on my high horse. I launch into a lecture about the joys of mashed that embarrassed my wife. Emily finally grabbed my plate, grabbed my fork and mashed those creamy taters right before my eyes. I felt like crawling under the table.
“No extra charge, hon. Have a nice day,” she growled.
I think I tipped her something like 65 percent.
Years later, I marshaled enough courage to try real, creamed, unmashed red potatoes. These are from New England, and they were on the right side in the war.
They’re not just milk splashed onto boiled spuds. They’re closer to our well-liked Midwestern scalloped potatoes, but the sauce is a rich gravy loaded with butter.
With the addition of a half cup of grated melting cheese, such as gorgonzola or asiago, you easily have a fancy Potatoes Au Gratin.
Northern Creamed Potatoes
4 medium red potatoes, 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half or evaporated milk
Salt and pepper
Paprika and chopped fresh parsley garnish
Parboil the potatoes until just soft, about 10 minutes. Make a roux by melting the butter in a medium pot and adding the flour. Mix to form a paste. Then slowly whisk in the half and half over low heat. For a thicker sauce, use evaporated milk. Season with salt and pepper. You can adjust the thickness with more liquid if you wish.
Butter a baking dish, and add the drained potatoes. Fold in the sauce, trying to keep the pieces whole. Sprinkle paprika on top and bake uncovered 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Garnish with parsley on each serving.
Note: You could peel the potatoes, but they look nicer with peels on.