Pandemic Cooking — Potatoes Duchesse

Almost like mashed potato muffins.

Last weekend, I decided to make hash browns from scratch. I looked it up in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and was shocked to find there was no entry. I looked it up in The Complete America’s Test Kitchen — also, no entry. I decided to pull out the big guns and go to my 1966 Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery.

Every volume has a unique cover and is chock-full of amazing images.
The full set. Inherited from my maternal grandmother. One of my most prized possessions.

Although there were easily over 100 entries for potatoes in the index, there were no hash browns. So, I killed an hour researching potato cooking in the US, the history of hash browns, and reading foreign potato entries in the encyclopedia that were similar. After I’d read enough recipes to feel confident I could make hash browns, I made them. They were good.

Look at all those potato options!

However, while the hash browns were satisfying. One entry in the index intrigued me — Potatoes Duchesse. What on earth could they be? I’d never heard of them. So, I did what you do in these pandemic times and I put in another hour or so on the potato-web when I was bored during the week. I was fascinated — mashed potatoes with dairy *and eggs* that are piped into designs and baked? What a wonderful way to spend some time in the kitchen.

Like many preparations of food, I found all sorts of variations between my encyclopedia’s two entries and several online recipes. I decided to try my own version (with garlic & herbs). They were DELICIOUS!

If you, too, are looking for a good way to stress-cook for a couple hours and have a delicious potato treat at the end, please enjoy!

  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 T sour cream (not required, but I had leftovers)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs (Note: many recipes just call for the yolks, which is undoubtedly more creamy, but I hate to waste animal protein, and I very much enjoyed the levity and texture that the whites added.)
  • 2-3 T minced fresh herbs
  • 4 T salted butter
  • salt & black pepper

Place potatoes and garlic in a pot and cover with twice their volume of water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil for 20 minutes.

After the boil.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Mince the herbs (I used thyme and rosemary). Melt the butter and mix with the herbs over low heat in a cast iron pan. Turn off the heat when melted and mixed.

When the potatoes are done, drain the water, and send them and the garlic through a ricer or food mill into the cast iron pan. Mix the potato mixture with the butter and herbs over low heat until fully integrated. Add salt to taste.

In a glass bowl, mix the sour cream, the milk, the eggs, 2-3 T black pepper and stir well. Then slowly add spoonfuls of the potato mixture and stir until creamy. When all of the potatoes have been added it should be roughly the consistency of a heavy icing. (Add milk if it’s too thick.)

Spoon the potato mixture in a piping bag (or, if you, like me, don’t have one, then spoon it into a ziploc and cut off the corner for a makeshift piping bag).

Turn the broiler on low. Squeeze swirls or whatever design you prefer onto a baking sheet. Place the sheets under the broiler on the middle rack until they are browned on top (~10 minutes). Remove the baking sheet from the oven, let the little duchesses chill out for a couple of minutes and then transfer them to serving plates with a spatula. Enjoy!