Twice as Tasty

Bagna Cauda-Style Mashed Potatoes

These potatoes mash up fresh whey or buttermilk with the bold flavors of bagna cauda’s garlic and anchovies

By Julie Laing
Photo by Julie Laing.

Whether I’m baking or mashing potatoes, I load them with flavor. I consider baked potatoes just the vehicle for fermented and pickled treats like curtido or grilled cherry tomato and corn salsa, home-smoked cheese and homemade sour cream or yogurt. If I can see the potato under the toppings, my balance must be off.

Mashed potatoes require a lighter hand with the volume of fillings to get them to cling together, but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on flavor. This mashup infuses potatoes with the ingredients of bagna cauda, a garlic and anchovy sauce that you dip into like fondue. Roasting the garlic and sautéing a little onion sweetly offset the salty fish.

I boldly go a step further by using up fresh yogurt whey, like in last week’s recipe for Berry Chocolate Muffins. You can even get away with leftover cheese whey here, although the type of cheese you made matters. Whey from culture-set cheese tastes milder than that from yogurt. Farmer’s cheese or queso blanco made with lemon juice leaves citrus notes in the whey, and quick mozzarella made with citric acid produces quite salty whey, especially when paired with anchovies.

I prefer rustic mashed potatoes, with skins on and chunks of complementary ingredients. The potato type makes a texture difference. Choose thin-skinned yellow and white potatoes for creamy and buttery mashers or starchy russet potatoes for light and fluffy ones. For less starch, rinse potato chucks under cold water before and after cooking.

For smoother mashers with just as much flavor, squeeze the cooked potatoes, peel and all, through a ricer. You could instead peel the potatoes before you cook them, but you’ll lose most of the vegetable’s nutrients. Either way, puree the onion, anchovies and garlic in a food processor until smooth before mashing them in.

Bagna Cauda-Style Mashed Potatoes

Serves about 6

2-1/2 pounds potatoes, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 medium fresh or grilled and frozen onion, finely chopped

1 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and minced

4 cloves roasted garlic, minced

1/2 cup yogurt or cheese whey or cultured buttermilk

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons minced scallions or onion tops (optional)

In a pot of cold water, bring the potatoes to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork. Let drain in a colander.

In a large, nonreactive saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for five to 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Stir in the anchovies and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, mashing lightly to break up the anchovies. Stir in the whey and pepper; bring to a simmer before removing from the heat.

Combine the boiled potatoes and whey mixture; mash until smooth and warmed through. Serve hot and sprinkled with scallions, if desired.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.