Lemon Thyme Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Mushroom Marsala

If you were stranded on a dessert island and all you could have to eat would be one thing, what would it be?  My answer every time… potatoes.  Not that I get asked that on a daily basis but it is something I ask others, in other words, what is your favorite food?  Let’s face it, there are so many potato recipes out there you could spend a lifetime trying out one new recipe a day.  But for me, without a shadow of doubt, my all time favorite way to eat potatoes is … mashed.  Call me old fashion, boring- I don’t care.  I love them.  I could eat a bowl of mashed potatoes for breakfast with a spoon.  Perhaps it’s because growing up as a kid, a treat for us every blue moon was to pick out our own TV dinner, you know Swanson’s or Hungry Man.  My pick, mashed potatoes with Salisbury Steak, corn,  and a cherry cobbler.  That’s the second question I usually ask, what is your favorite TV dinner?  Okay, sorry for the trip down memory lane – back to the potatoes.  I am a picky mashed potato connoisseur, they have to be just right.  Please don’t try to make light or diet mashed potatoes. Don’t do it, it’s wrong in every way.  Cauliflower is not a potato and cannot be disguised in any way to be one. Nor should mashed potatoes be made out of a box, with nonfat milk or with chicken broth…no! no! and  no!  Mashed potatoes need butter and cream, that’s it… we’re not talking about this any more.  It is what it is. Skip the chicken, don’t eat lunch, pass on the bread and EAT the potatoes.   No matter how you decide to flavor your potatoes here are some mashed potato basics;
  • Peeled evenly cut potatoes gently boiled in heavily salted water- just covering the tops
  • Once fork tender- drain
  • Steam out ( allow potatoes to release all the extra moisture by giving time to release the steam)
  • Run through a food mill or ricer
  • Cream with hot half and half or cream and melted butter- plenty of salt
These mashed potatoes are my definition of  “comfort food”. They deliciously pair to all sorts of Summer and Fall dishes- salmon, barbecue, pot roast, or roast chicken.  Today I served them with a really easy, sweet, Chicken Marsala.  The mashed potatoes are buttery, creamy and full of earthy notes from the fresh thyme and a surprise zing from the lemon, the flavors dance together beautifully. As I took pictures of the mushroom and potatoes, I was once again enamored by the beauty of these dirty little things that were plucked from earth.  They reminded me of Cinderella and her little mice- dirty and scruffy around the edges. With a flick of a magic wand  they are transformed into something magical.
Lemon Thyme Mashed Potatoes

Serves 10-14

10 medium to large Idaho Russet potatoes peeled and quartered- about 5 pounds

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ¾ cup half and half
2 full Tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves
Zest of 2 large lemons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black or white pepper
Sprinkle of nutmeg

  • In small sauce warm butter,half & half, thyme, and lemon zest – DO NOT BOIL.  Once warmed turn the heat off and set aside.
  • In large stock  pot,  cover peeled & cut potatoes with cold water just to cover the tops, add 1 Tablespoon of salt and bring to a simmering boil- NOT A ROILING BOIL.
  • Boil until fork tender
  • Strain and allow  time for the potatoes to sit and  release their steam – about 10 minutes
  • Put potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill into a bowl or a standing mixer with a whisk attachment
  • Turn on mixer and cream for about 1 minute
  • Slowly add in butter and cream mixture – once liquid is combined thoroughly turn mixer up to high and cream for 1-2 minutes
  • Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
  • Serve warm

Chicken Marsala

Serves 4

1/2 cup all purpose flour
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 thinly sliced chicken breasts- pounded to ¼ “thickness
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
4 cups brown Italian mushrooms-cleaned and thinly sliced
1 large shallot- finely chopped
1 garlic clove-minced
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup low sodium beef broth
1 Tablespoon corn starch

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

  •  Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until the oil is almost smoking.
  •  Place the flour in a shallow dish and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  •  Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.
  •  Placed the dredged chicken into the hot pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (about 2 -3 minutes each side) turn once.
  •  Remove the cooked chicken and set aside on a platter
  •  Add the butter to the sauté pan, once melted add in the mushrooms to the same pan- lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper , sauté until golden around the edges and soft 3-4 minutes.
  •  Add in the shallots, garlic, and thyme- stir to coat.
  •  Turn off the flame and add the Marsala wine, return to the stove over medium/high heat and bring to a boil until wine has reduced by 1/3.
  •  Dissolve the cornstarch into the cold broth and then add into the Marsala- continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  •  Season with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  •  Place the chicken  back into the pan.  Bring back to a boil and the reduce heat.
  •  Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.
  •  Serve warm over mashed potatoes or buttered egg noodles.
9 comments… add one
  • Heidi September 18, 2010, 3:40 am

    I'm not a lover of mashed potatoes but the chicken mushroom marsala sounds delightful! I get excited about mushrooms – Love them! I think that is a recipe that even I could cook. Now that it's getting colder outside, it's time to break out the major comfort food recipes! yeah! Good time of year.

  • ~ Chef Louise September 18, 2010, 3:43 am

    Heidi, I'm not sure we can still be friends if you don't like mashed potatoes….

  • Indie.Tea September 18, 2010, 10:03 am

    That looks SO delicious. Especially the chicken mushroom marsala. Bet it would be great with long-grained rice, or wild rice perhaps?

  • Steve September 18, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Beautiful, Louise. How eerie, just last night my wife and I were talking TV dinners – not sure how it came up. I immediately went to Salisbury Steak – so retro. I liked the big one with the little dry dessert thing in the top middle compartment. Thanks for the nudge on the Marsala. Haven't done that it quite some time and it looks particularly good at this time of year.

  • vegetarianirvana September 18, 2010, 10:43 pm

    you have a delicious and an eye catching blog.

  • riadolly September 18, 2010, 11:17 pm

    Everytime you post a new blog I am so very thankful that we know each other! You got me all excited and worked up over little old "mashed taters!" I however, am a firm believer in using Yukon golds and roasting them in the oven. After that, we're practically twins during the butter/cream love fest. A little roasted garlic, a little thyme in the "buttered cream" and I am in nirvana!

  • Renee Fontes September 22, 2010, 5:09 am

    Louise you are the potato master!

  • dana September 29, 2010, 2:45 am

    i'm totally on the same page. i ADORE potatoes. (my daughter won't touch them, not even tater tots. gives me the impulse to order a DNA test). i think the number one is a potato gratin, with the mashed on its heels. usually i just mash them with butter, milk and a bit of sour cream, but when i have the time i love to mix in roasted garlic and maybe a bit of gruyere. i was crazed with roasted new potato at the beginning of the season, with rosemary and garlic. i can eat potatoes every day and never get bored. and another fave – after parboiling they get a quick pan-fry with wild mushrooms and haricots verts and then the lot gets tossed in a garlic parsley butter. and.my.daughter.doesn't.eat.fries. damnation! lovely pictures, chef!

  • Jean at The Delightful Repast September 30, 2010, 11:43 pm

    Louise, I'm with you. Mashed potatoes are the best. Wish we'd had some of these at camp last Saturday! (That was a great day, wasn't it?) I love chicken marsala, but so many restaurants don't serve it with mashed potatoes. They'll give you something like angel hair pasta! Not good.

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