I know it’s just beginning to be fall (and it still feels like the dog days of summer) but I’ve been cooking for winter… but it’s not my fault! I visited my favorite farm on Saturday and, when asking what they were up to, found out that they had just slaughtered their 3-year-old laying hens! (Okay, I know it may seem funny to have happy exclamation marks and the word slaughtered in the same sentence, but when it comes to ethical meat eating, eating the meat from a hen who’s lived a long three years romping around an idyllic farm is the ultimate experience.)
At the sound of the word stewing hen, my face lit up, and the words coq au vin spewed out of my smile. To seal the deal, the hens were sold to me for $5.00—I just can not pass up a bargain. I picked up a bottle of Burgundy on the way home, and had my birds marinating within the hour. 36 hours later, heaven was chewed up and swallowed.
But you’ll have to wait for that (sorry!) because tonight all I have to offer you is olive oil mashed potatoes. These potatoes, however, deserve much more respect than I am giving them by setting you up for coq au vin first and while they aren’t as delicious as the coq au vin (nothing could be), they are delicious. These potatoes stood up for themselves on the plate—they didn’t let the chicken cast too big of a shadow over them, and their presence was much appreciated.
I’ve had coq au vin with mashed potatoes before—and had those potatoes get lost in the shadow. For some reason, butter mashed potatoes, as good as they are, become, I dunno, passe when served with a wowzer like coq au vin. Everyone’s had butter mashed potatoes, most people can recall their goodness instantly. So when you are serving them with a doozey, it’s easy to eat (and enjoy) but to not really notice them.
Olive oil mashed potatoes are a different story. They’ve got a little somethin’-somethin’. Diners can’t take more than two bites without pausing to hmmm and wonder what makes these mashed potatoes special. It’s worth every penny to use a great-tasting, salad-dressing quality olive oil here, as the flavor of it will shine. If you really like the olive oil flavor, try making this potatoes without the whipping cream; I couldn’t give up the creamy mashed potato taste and added it in. They go wonderfully with chicken but would also pair well with bluefish or salmon.
Now go get your hands on some stewing hens and check back with me in a few days for the coq au vin recipe.
Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- salt, pepper
Place potatoes in a pot and add water enough to cover by half an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the potato water.
Place potatoes, olive oil, cream, and 1/2 cup of the potato water in a bowl and mash with a masher. You can whip the potatoes with a hand mixer or in a kitchenaid to make them creamier. Add more olive oil and cream to taste. Season with salt and pepper.