Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Spuds take the spotlight for Thanksgiving

by VALLE NOVAK Contributing Writer
| November 21, 2021 1:00 AM

Thanksgiving’s at hand, and instead of my usual handful of appropriate recipes, I’m going to spotlight the one veggie that’s always the star (after the turkey, of course) . I refer, naturally, to the not-at-all humble spud, without which any holiday dinner would be a bust. Over the years, I’ve gathered many tasty options, so today, whether as companion to hot dogs or the traditional turkey, here’s a list of choices for the cook — to be accompanied by your favorite fruits, salad and veggie dishes.

We’ll begin with a practically full-meal potato dish to die for: Enjoy!

Potatoes Florentine

6 medium Russet potatoes, cooked, peeled

½ cup butter, softened

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, cooked, drained

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced chives

¾ cup sour cream

2/3 cup Cheddar cheese, grated

Set oven at 325. In large mixing bowl, mash hot potatoes with the butter; blend in spinach, salt, chives and sour cream, stirring till combined. Pour into greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes; serve hot.

Potato Rissole

2 pounds (about 18) small round or fingerling potatoes, peeled

½ stick butter

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover till done (8-10 minutes). Drain well. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat; add potatoes and cook, rolling and stirring frequently till evenly golden brown all around. Sprinkle with salt, then chopped parsley and tip into a warmed serving bowl, making sure to include all of pan’s contents. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.

Mashed Potatoes w/Green Onions

5 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled, chopped

2 cups hot milk

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

2 bunches green onions, chopped with tops

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling water until just tender. Drain, transfer to bowl. With electric mixer, beat until smooth. Gradually add hot milk, beat until blended. Melt butter in heavy skillet over med-high heat; add chopped green onions a d sauté till tender, only about 3-4 minutes. Mix into potatoes, stirring to incorporate completely. Serve.

Sauteed Baby Potatoes with Parsley Butter

16 thin-skinned baby potatoes (or cut-up l;arger ones)*

2 Tbsps. (1/4 stick) butter

2 Tbsps. chopped Italian parsley

Scrub potatoes with a brush, then with a peeler, remove a strip of peel from around each small potato. Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling water till just tender — about 15 minutes. Drain, allow to cool. (You may cover and refrigerate at this point if working in advance). Shortly before serving time, melt butter in large cast iron or other nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add potatoes and sauté, shaking pan and turning till evenly crisp and golden — about 7 minutes. Gently toss with parsley, season with salt and pepper, transfer to a warm bowl, Serve.

  • Choose the smallest potatoes you can find, cutting in wedges if necessary.

Dear old friend from Hope provided this irreproachable casserole at Thanksgiving every year for at least a decade at the Hope TG gathering.

Kath’s Potato Casserole

12 large spuds, peeled, cooked, mashed

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

8 ounces sour cream

1/3 cup melted butter, or as desired

Fresh parsley flakes

Set oven at 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix the mashed potatoes with the cream cheese and sour cream, till smooth and creamy. Place in a 9x13-inch baking pan and bake covered for 40 minutes.

I feel honor-bound to provide at least one stuffing recipe, so here’s an old favorite, to be baked in a bread pan.

Herbed Dressing

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 large sweet onion, very finely chopped

2 cups finely chopped celery, including some of the leaves

6 cups herb-seasoned cubed bread stuffing*

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup chopped tarragon leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Salt, pepper to taste

Hot water

Set oven at 350F. Butter a baking dish or large bread loaf pan. Melt butter in large heavy pan or Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add chopped onions and celery and sauté till tender and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Add stuffing cubes and all remaining ingredients, mixing and tossing well. Add hot water a half-cup at a time, tossing to mix; be careful to only barely moisten the dressing. Add salt and pepper if needed and bake covered for about 45 minutes, testing carefully depending on the container; uncover and bake another 15 minutes till golden. Serve as is, or with cranberry sauce or gravy.

  • Choose a mix that doesn’t include too much sage — it can overwhelm the delicacy of the tarragon.

A Thanksgiving dessert like this ethereal pie points up the true meaning of “something to be thankful for”! Be sure to use only pure maple syrup.

Maple Cream Pie

Pastry dough for a single crust 10-in or 9-inch deep-dish pie

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1½ cups pure maple syrup

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

½ pint whipping cream for topping

Handful of finely chopped walnuts or pecans for garnish (optional)

Prepare pie crust to fit your large pie plate, trimming edge of dough and leaving a ½-inch overhang. Crimp decoratively and chill, covered, 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line pie shell with waxed paper and weight with rice or dry beans to ensure even baking. Bake in center of oven 12 minutes. Remove weights and paper carefully and cool shell in pie-plate on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to F350.

In a bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer until well combined; beat in flour 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until combined well after each addition. Beat in maple syrup and cream slowly (I do this with a whisk) and pour filling into shell. Bake pie in center of oven about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature then whip the half-pint of cream and top pie with generous dollops to serve. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts or pecans if you wish.

The happiest of Thanksgivings to all of you; God bless us — every one!

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at or by phone at 208-265-4688 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Valle Novak