Mario Batali doesn't play by anyone's mashed potato rules, it seems. The New York–based chef, a partner in the Mozza empire and Eataly, the latter with a soon-to-open Westfield Century City location, has a controversial view on mashed potatoes: no dairy.
"Try it one time before. Don't try a new recipe in front of a bunch of friends that you're still trying to impress," Batali says. "Instead of adding any butter or any cream, add just extra-virgin olive oil."
It's not just the lack of dairy that sets Batali's mashers apart. He's specific about the type of potato — "I like a good Yukon Gold" — and he sneaks in another vegetable.
"What I do at my Thanksgiving is 70% Yukon Gold, 30% celery root."
Batali doesn't just use olive oil in place of dairy to be difficult. The man is passionate about all things olive. "I only use extra-virgin olive oil. I get brand-new oil. When you taste extra-virgin olive oil that has just been harvested, it's like layers of history are being peeled away. This is why the culture of the olive is so powerful and pervasive."
But the recipe isn't just roots and oils. He also adds garlic and booze.
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"I also do sauteed, whole garlic cloves. I saute them until they're golden-brown, then I splash in some sweet vermouth and I reduce it until it's a paste and they're soft, like roasted, but they've got a sweet-bitter flavor that Cinzano gives it — I'm a big fan of slightly bitter — and I stir those in with the extra-virgin olive oil. You'll be the hit of this year's Thanksgiving."
This is clearly a loose recipe, but the gist of it is: Chop up some cooked potatoes and celery root. Add some salt, a little pepper. In a pan, saute whole garlic cloves. Add an Italian vermouth and cook it all down. Add that and plenty of olive oil (good stuff is key!) to the potatoes, and mash.
"It knocks people out. You don't tell anyone," Batali says. "They say, 'Why are your mashed potatoes so much better than mine?' And you say, "Because I'm a superior being.'"
(Read our interview with Batali here.)