Duchess potatoes. Welcome to old school, fancy schmancy mashed potatoes. So, tell me. Who is the duchess for whom these potatoes are named? Or is it just the pattern of browned ribbons and waves that are reminiscent of a frilly shirt or silly hat that gives these potatoes their name? Who knows. Duchess potatoes are a rather precious way of serving mashed potatoes; they’ve been piped in decorative swirls, usually formed into individual portions, painted with butter, and browned in the oven. They taste great. I think it has to do with the butter. And the cream. And the way that both the tops and bottoms get browned. They’re actually rather addictive.
Usually the mention of “piping” is enough to send me running to the hills. But making these pretty little potatoes isn’t so bad, assuming you have a piping bag and a large star tip. If not, you can pipe them into florets using the cut corner of a freezer bag. Or just skip the piping all together and spread the mashed potatoes into a casserole dish, create peaks on the surface with the tines of a fork, and bake.
Duchess Potatoes Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side dish.
You can easily scale up this recipe. To make ahead for a dinner party, just prepare the mashed potatoes, pipe them and refrigerate. Put them in a 425°F oven 20 minutes before serving to brown.
2 pounds potatoes (Yukon Golds work best), peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 egg yolks
1 Place potatoes in a medium to large pot (3 qt) and cover with a couple inches of cold water. Add a couple teaspoons of salt to the water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender (the tines of a fork easily pierce), about 20-25 minutes.
2 While the potatoes are boiling, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside. You will use this butter to coat the potatoes right before they go in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°.
3 When the potatoes are cooked, drain in a colander and put the potatoes back in the pot set over low heat. Allow them to release steam for a minute or so. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and mash the potatoes until the butter has been incorporated. Add the nutmeg, black pepper, heavy cream and continue mashing the potatoes. Once everything is incorporated, add salt to taste and the egg yolks. Continue to mash until the mixture is smooth. Do not over-mash or your potatoes will end up with a gluey consistency.
4 Using a piping bag with a large star point, pipe the potatoes onto a cookie sheet. Alternatively, you can just fill a casserole dish with the mashed potatoes, and use a fork to create lots of peaks on the surface. The swirled edges from the star-point piping bag forms or the peaks of mashed potatoes in a casserole dish will brown nicely in the oven. The browned parts taste great, so you want to maximize them. Whether you make piped portions or a casserole, paint the potatoes with the melted butter. Bake in the 425°F oven until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.