~ Golden & Cheesy, Potato & Bread-Stuffing Cups ~
When company is coming and mashed potatoes are a must, this recipe is one of my favorite side-dishes. It combines two somewhat ordinary family-style side-dishes (mashed potatoes and bread stuffing) into one, by layering and portioning them into desired-sized ramekins. Once baked, these pretty-to-look-at accompaniments can grace even the swankiest of tables. They taste great with almost any roasted poultry, pork, and, prime rib too. There's more, they can be assembled a day or two before baking and serving. What's not to love about:
Perfectly portioned, not too little, not to much -- just enough!
Baked in individual servings?
Can be assembled two days in advance? You betcha!
Remember Steven Speilberg's 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Not since Richard Dreyfuss (who played the character "Roy"), started compulsively building mashed potato sculptures resembling Wyoming's Devil's Tower National Monument has playing with one's mashed potatoes been so appropriate. Each and every time I make these fun side-dishes, I digress and giggle about that hilarious scene.
A bit about the stuffing mixture: I keep this basic and simple: fresh bread cubes drizzled with a mixture of lightly-seasoned, sauteed onions and celery. It delivers the texture of stuffing, but, this generic mix insures that when served, it complements whatever the main course is and whatever it is seasoned with. It also insures that the 'stuffing' cooks in the same amount of time it takes the potatoes to heat through and top brown.
A bit about the potato mixture: I do not refer to these as "mashed potatoes" because they are not. They rely upon eggs and butter for their light texture. No cream, milk or stock is used in their preparation. The cheese, plus just the right amount of white pepper, gives this side-dish its bold flavor. Cheddar is my favorite, but any similar-textured cheese with good melting qualities, as long as it has a bold flavor, may be substituted.
8 ounces 1/2"-3/4" cubed potato bread
8 ounces diced yellow or sweet onion
4 ounces diced celery
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
no-stick cooking spray, for preparing ramekins
3 pounds peeled, rinsed, then cut into 1" chunks, gold potatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt, for seasoning water
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (1/2 stick)
2 jumbo eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
8 ounces sharp, white cheddar cheese, grated
~ Step 1. Spray 6, 2-cup ramekins with no-stick spray. I like to use clear glass because it allows me to keep an eye on the browning process as they bake. Cube the bread and distribute it among the dishes. Each ramekin will be about three-quarters full. Set aside.
In a 10" skillet melt the butter over low heat and stir in the poultry seasoning, salt and white pepper. Add the vegetables and adjust heat to saute, until the onion softens, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat.
Do your best to evenly portion and drizzle the remaining butter evenly over the top of each portion.
~ Step 5. In a 4-quart stockpot, bring potatoes (covered in cold water) to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 teaspoons of salt. Adjust heat to a steady simmer and continue to cook, until potatoes are al dente, meaning: cooked through but with a bit of texture left in their centers, about 8-10 minutes.
Note: This timing is going to vary depending upon the size you have chunked your potatoes.
Note: These aren't your typical mashed potatoes. In fact, they are going to seem thick and heavy, but, when they bake, the eggs are going to make them cook up light and airy!
~ Step 10. Using a large spoon (I use an ordinary tablespoon), begin scooping and dolloping the potato mixture on top of the bread 'stuffing' mixture in each ramekin. Do your best to portion mixture evenly while lightly mounding it 'creatively' towards the center of each one. Do not press down on the potatoes!
Note: At this point, the baking pan of ramekins can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to two days prior to baking Remove from refrigerator and return to room temperature, about 1-2 hours, prior to baking as follows:
Bake, uncovered, on center rack of preheated 325 degree oven, 40-45 minutes, or, until bread stuffing and the top of the potatoes are lightly-browned and celery-onion mixture is bubbling. Watch the progress carefully after 30 minutes, as the bread stuffing can go from browned to burned quickly!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 10" skillet, preferably nonstick; large slotted spoon; 6, 2-cup ramekins, preferably clear glass; vegetable peeler; 4-quart stockpot w/lid; colander; 1-cup measuring container; fork; hand-held vegetable masher; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper
Cook's Note: One of my favorite entrees to serve this potato side-dish with is ~ Braised Pork Tenderloins w/Apple and Onion Puree ~. This sweet and savory lip-smacking puree just might make you forget the word gravy. Just click on the Related Article link below to get my recipe!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)