- 2-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, halved widthwise and rinsed
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
Combine the potatoes with enough cold water to cover them by about an inch in a large pot. Add enough salt so the water tastes just a little less salty than seawater. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer. Cook the potatoes until you can poke the fattest part with a sharp knife (don't get poke-happy, or they'll get waterlogged) It'll take about 15 to 25 minutes total, depending on the size of your potatoes.
Drain the potatoes and let them sit in the colander for about 5 minutes; set the pot aside. The steam coming off the potatoes is evaporating water. The less water in the potatoes, the better they'll better absorb the butter and cream.
Meanwhile, add the cream, milk, and nutmeg to a small pot and bring it to a gentle simmer over low heat. Turn off the heat.
Return the potatoes to the warm, now-empty pot and mash them with a masher or whisk until they're as smooth as possible. Set the pot over low heat. Add a little of the milk mixture, a few tablespoons or so, stirring it in quickly and well, then add some butter, a tablespoon or two. Stir until the butter is incorporated, then add a little more of the milk mixture, and continue alternating between the butter and milk mixture until you've used them all. If you feel like your mash is getting loose, though, stop adding the milk but continue adding the butter. The last thing you want is runny mashed potatoes. Season with salt to taste.
- 2 large fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed, fronds reserved, and stalks discarded
- 2 small skin-on red onions, roots trimmed but left intact, halved lengthwise
- 4 medium parsnips, peeled, topped and tailed
- 2 medium carrots, peeled, topped and tailed
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon salt
- 10 or so skin-on garlic cloves
- Several thyme sprigs (optional)
- Sage Pesto (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Trim the root end of the fennel, just to remove any brown oxidized bits, but keep the ends intact. Halve the fennel bulbs lengthwise. Ideally your parsnips and carrots will be about the same size. If the top portion of any of them is much thicker than the others, lop off this portion and halve it lengthwise.
Pour the oil in a flameproof heavy-bottomed roasting pan, shallow baking dish, or cast-iron pan large enough to hold all the vegetables comfortably. Set it over a high heat until the oil is nice and hot-it should ripple, crackle, and smoke a little.
Carefully add the vegetables, cut sides down for the onion and fennel, and let them sizzle away. Turn your pan every now and then if you feel that one spot's not getting hot, and peeking underneath the vegetables to make sure things are looking happy. As they brown, you'll smell the sweetness as you bring out the vegetables' sugars. If you see too much browning too quickly, turn the heat down a bit. When the undersides are a nice golden brown color, about 10 minutes, turn the vegetables browned sides up, and turn off the heat.
Sprinkle plenty of Maldon salt, about 1 tablespoon, over the vegetables, crushing it between your fingers as you do. Don't stir, because you don't want the vegetables to lose the salt. Scatter the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs around the pan and pop it into the oven.
The next part is a bit of a balancing act. If after 15 minutes or so in the oven, you see really nice color, but the insides are still fairly firm, turn down the heat to 350 F. Continue to cook the vegetables, turning them over now and then and being delicate with the fennel and onions so they don't fall apart, just until you can slide a knife into the vegetables without resistance, 40 to 50 minutes.
Stack the vegetables nicely on a serving plate. I like to set an onion half and a few fennel halves on the plate first, then start arranging the carrots and parsnips on top so they face this way and that. Add the rest of the veg, including the garlic cloves, and spoon on some of the sweet fat left in the pan. Add a little more salt, but only if you fancy. I like mine not very highly seasoned. Roughly chop a handful of the reserved fennel fronds and sprinkle over the top. If you're using the sage pesto, add some of it in dollops here and there.
For more of April's recipes, go to Page 3.