One of Gregory Gourdet’s favorite dishes to make is mashed potatoes. But the former Top Chef contestant and founder of Kann, a Haitian pop-up in Portland, Oregon, didn’t grow up eating the classic side dish.
“I grew up in a Haitian household—we didn’t really eat mashed potatoes,” he says. Instead, his Queens, New York, family ate a lot of rice. But once he started cooking professionally that all changed. “I made mashed potatoes in pretty much almost every restaurant I worked at for like the first five years of my career.”
“My strongest memory of mashed potatoes is probably working at Jean-Georges,” says Gourdet. “When I first started working there, there was a slow-cooked salmon dish with mashed potatoes and truffle vinaigrette—it was really one of the first dishes I had to make in a professional setting. They were creamy and super buttery. It’s just that kind of comforting earthiness that just makes you feel good.”
So when he was considering what to include in his new cookbook, Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health, the chef knew he wanted to feature his signature Dirty Mashed Potatoes. The recipe, however, leaves the standard butter and cream behind for healthier ingredients.
“For me, health is something that’s extremely important,” he says. “I got sober about 12 years ago and changing my diet and changing my outlook on life, that was part of it. I’ve also been traveling around the world and experiencing global flavors. When I think about what I want to eat at home, it’s this health-forward food that doesn’t compromise anything.”
In this case, not compromising on flavor means including cashew cream, a whopping 30 cloves of garlic and plenty of olive oil.
The best part is that these mashed potatoes are fantastically simple to make and “they’re pretty spectacular,” he says. Here are the chef’s tips and tricks for making his deliciously creamy mashed potatoes.
Gourdet’s ideal potato provides a creaminess as well as a backbone of earthy flavor. And since he doesn’t remove the skin (it adds texture and fiber), the chef prefers small potatoes, such as new potatoes, red bliss or fingerlings.
“There are tons and tons of different types of potatoes,” he says. “Some are best for frying, some for roasting and these varieties are best for mashed potatoes.”
While butter and cream usually provide the creamy texture of a decadent bowl of mashed potatoes, Gourdet instead opts to replace the ingredients with alternative fats—nearly a cup of olive oil and homemade cashew cream.
“You can puree cashews with various amounts of liquid to make anything from cashew milk to cashew cream,” he says. And it’s really that easy. After letting the cashews soak in salted water for about an hour, they go into a blender. The resulting cream acts much in the way that heavy cream or half-and-half would. “The cashew cream is really just there for the mouthfeel of it all,” he says. “It doesn’t actually taste like cashews. It’s a lot of potatoes. It’s a lot of olive oil. It’s a lot of onions and garlic. So the cashew cream is really there to kind of be the binder that makes it rich and creamy.”
While the cashew cream may not lend much flavor, Gourdet cooks down two yellow onions and a whopping 30 cloves of garlic, which he then folds into the mashed potatoes. (This along with the skin is what gives it the “dirty”—albeit delicious—quality.)
“The secret to these is really getting those onions and that garlic beautifully caramelized, so you have like this really kind of sweet, savory caramelized onion and garlic flavor,” he says.
After all the ingredients have been incorporated, the final step is a last-minute broil to give the top layer of potatoes a bit of a “crackle.”
“I love that it’s called dirty mashed potatoes,” says Gourdet. “Really just throw everything in the pot and mash it all together. This is truly a decadent dish.”
- 1.5 cups Raw cashews
- 2 tbsp Kosher salt
- 1.5 cups Water
- .74 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Large yellow onions, cut into thin half-moon slices
- 30 Garlic cloves, sliced as thin as the onions
- 1.5 pounds Small potatoes
To Make the Cashew Cream:
Combine the cashews, 1 tbsp salt and the water in a small mixing bowl and let the nuts soak at room temperature for 1 hour. (It’s okay if they float.) Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
To Make the Onions & Garlic:
While the cashews are soaking, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (the onions should fit in about two layers) over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add the onions and 1 tbsp salt, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften and release liquid, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, then reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have a slightly creamy texture and turn golden and even a little brown at the edges, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep cooking until the onions have a very creamy and almost melting texture, 5 to 8 minutes more. Turn off the heat.
To Make the Dish:
In a medium pot, combine the potatoes and enough water to cover by an inch or so and bring to a strong simmer over high heat. Adjust the heat and simmer until you can cut one of the potatoes in half with no resistance, about 15 minutes. Drain well, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Return the potatoes to the medium pot, add the onion mixture (including the oil), then crush and stir to make a chunky mash. Add the cashew mixture and use a whisk to incorporate the cream into the potatoes.
Gradually add up to 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid so the mixture has the texture of slightly loose, creamy mashed potatoes. You can do this up to 2 hours in advance.
Move an oven rack to the top position and preheat the broiler. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish or another shallow ovenproof pot that’ll hold it in a 3- or 4-inch layer. Broil on the top rack until the top is bubbly and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Serve hot.