When we travelled to France last year, M. and I stayed in a hotel in Clichy, and still very jet-lagged were flicking through some cable channels until we fell on a documentary about Joel Robuchon. “Plus de beurre”, he was telling his assistant, “plus de beeeeeeurre!!!” (“More butter, MORE BUTTER!!!”), there must have been at least 500g of butter in the mash already, but he wanted more Beurre! That became the subject of a fair few laughs after that and as a souvenir, M. gave me the Complete Robuchon recipe book for Christmas.
Christmas is long gone now and it is well overdue that I try on a recipe from this beautiful book. It is 600 pages, no pictures, no frills, just lots of recipes, all French classics, including the famous Potato Mash with Butter.
It seems to me like a good one to start with, especially since I just got myself a brand new and shiny food mill that I can’t wait to try. We go to Eveleigh Markets and buy 1kg of nice potatoes (according to the Potato seller, the Necta are ideal for mashing), as well as a few handful of fresh mushrooms (did I mention I was obsessed with mushrooms at the moment?) to accompany the mash. We choose some Chestnuts, Swiss Browns, Pine mushrooms, King Browns… unfortunately the Slippery Jacks (the closest we can find here to the Porcini/Cep mushrooms) were not available yet.
Back at home I put the potatoes unpeeled in a saucepan with cold salted water, bring them to a boil and let them cook for about half an hour.
Then I drain them, peel them and start processing them in the food mill over a sauce pan, which is a fair bit of work actually, I work up quite a sweat, but it is for a good cause, as the mash coming out of the mill is very fine indeed. I whisk vigorously the mash in the sauce pan over a medium heat to dry out the mash a bit.
In the meantime I bring 250ml of Milk to the boil in a separate saucepan.
I turn the heat under the mash on low and incorporate the 250g of chilled chopped butter bit by bit, stirring energetically.
I add then the hot milk, still stirring briskly, until the milk is absorbed.
In the original recipe, they suggest putting the mash through a very fine sieve for an even finer puree, but at this stage I am exhausted from all that energetic and brisk stirring and can’t be bothered! (Don’t know how they do in professional kitchens).
In the meantime I have also pan-fried the mushrooms in butter with garlic, onions and parsley, then added white wine and cream, always a winner! Et voila!
There’s potato mash everywhere in the kitchen, on myself, it’s quite a messy business, but the puree is lovely. It does contain a fair bit of butter, so I guess that helps! It’s also very fine and surprisingly light.
Not something for every day, but I will happily make it again during winter. Look forward to the day I will taste the real original mash in one of Robuchon’s Ateliers, but that won’t be any time soon unfortunately… Good day to you all!