This simple side dish has been a go-to recipe in my family for the past forty years and has never failed to deliver. Versatile? You bet. It works equally well with a Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas leg of lamb, boring Sunday baked chicken, mid-week broiled fish, weekend barbecue with friends, or potluck dinner when you’re unsure of what dish might fit in. It can accentuate a great main course or salvage a so-so one. Finally, although leftovers are rarely a problem with this dish, formed into patties and sauteed it makes excellent potato pancakes the following day.
2 pounds (approximately 6 medium-sized) russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
3 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces Neufchatel cheese
1/2 -1 teaspoon salt, to taste
4-6 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, 1 tablespoon of which is reserved for topping
(optional) 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
A small pinch of paprika
- In a large saucepan, boil potatoes in water, to cover, on medium-high heat until very tender, approximately 30 minutes.
- Drain potatoes thoroughly, without rinsing, and return to the saucepan. While the potatoes are still warm, add butter, garlic, cheese, 4 tablespoons milk, and salt. Mash the potato mixture until smooth. Depending on the moisture content of your potatoes, and if necessary, continue to add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a somewhat stiffer consistency than you normally prefer is achieved. Add 3 tablespoons chopped chives and mix.
- Spoon potato mixture into a buttered casserole dish and sprinkle lightly with the remaining 1 tablespoon chives, breadcrumbs (optional), and paprika. This dish can be assembled several hours ahead and refrigerated until ready for baking.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.