Bon Appétit (November 2011)
For many people, mashed potatoes are a non-negotiable part of the Thanksgiving menu. Their place on the table isn't up for debate: No mashed potatoes, no Thanksgiving.
It's easy to understand why. Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are a warm and welcome part of the feast.
But let's all be honest here. Let's call a spade a spade. At Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes serve one purpose, and one purpose only: Gravy-vehicle.
They don't really taste like anything, except the butter and salt and pepper you add to them. Sometimes we think they're really only there because it's considered impolite to eat gravy with a spoon, straight outta the gravy boat.
But what if you had a mash that actually brought something to the table? A root-vegetable mash that actually had flavor?
What if you had this Celery Root, Kohlrabi, and Apple Purée?
One of the greatest things about cooking -- at Thanksgiving as well as throughout the year -- is taking simple, sometimes homely-looking ingredients and combining them into something special and beautiful.
This recipe does that in aces. Because, uh, have you ever seen celery root and kohlrabi? Let's just say they're not the prettiest girls at the dance.
The recipe for this mash is simple: Peel and dice all the vegetables, boil until tender, purée until smooth. Yeah, it's a lot of dicing, but that's essentially the only work you have to do.
We followed the recipe exactly, dutifully boiling one vegetable at a time, fishing it out, and then boiling the next one. We're not 100 percent sure that's necessary -- wouldn't it be fine to throw them all in a big pot of water and then drain and purée the whole thing? Must you really cook the apples in their own separate saucepan? It's up to you.
Also, we don't have a potato ricer or a food mill. Instead, we simply puréed this in our food processor. It worked just fine. In fact, we actually loved the slightly lumpy texture we ended up with.
This is one of those heaven-sent Thanksgiving recipes that you can make in its entirety a day ahead and then reheat in the microwave just before dinner. That's an excellent way to help reduce the T-day stress-factor. (It also makes this purée ideal if you need to take something to a potluck Thanksgiving dinner.)
The result? Deeeeelicious. It's like mashed potatoes with zing! The celery root and kohlrabi have an earthy flavor somewhat akin to a turnip, and the apple adds a little note that's sweet and a little tart. All in all, it's a very tasty mash. (And, yes, it went great with our gravy.)
Several of our dinner guests told us this purée was the best thing on the menu. When's the last time somebody said that about mashed potatoes?
2 pounds celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 3/4” cubes
1 1/2 pounds kohlrabi, peeled, cut into 1/2” cubes
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1” cubes
1 Granny Smith apple (1/2 lb.), peeled, cored, cut into 1” cubes
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chervil sprigs
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: A potato ricer or food mill
Add celery root to a large pot of boiling salted water. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, 11–13 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer celery root to a large bowl. Return water to a boil; repeat with kohlrabi, then potatoes, cooking each separately until tender, 14–16 minutes for kohlrabi and 10–12 minutes for potatoes; add to bowl with celery root.
Meanwhile, bring apple and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until apple falls apart, 6–8 minutes, adding water by tablespoons if dry.
Working in batches, pass celery root, kohlrabi, potatoes, and apples through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Pass mixture through ricer again if a smoother texture is desired. Stir in butter. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl, cover, and chill. Rewarm in microwave in 30-second intervals until heated through. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with chervil sprigs.