Who doesn’t love mash?
Most home cooks probably have their mash game in order – whether you labour over a velvety smooth pomme purée, settle for a swift, rustic, pan-mashed affair, or have the tenacity and forearms to beat it smooth with a whisk.
The current bounty of winter root veg offers the opportunity to expand, play and riff on this most basic of kitchen skills. You’ll find a world of beautifully named regional dishes that involve minor but transformative tweaks.
Alongside the humble potato, parsnips, celeriac, carrots and swede are still bountiful and can offer germane additions or alternatives to mash. The same goes for the full spectrum of winter veg such as cabbages, kales, greens and leeks.
You might see these as a simple side dish, something on which to perch your bangers of choice, but they can make perfect toppings for pies and bakes, be fashioned into crispy pan-fried cakes, or baked into comforting gratins.
Mashed roots love dairy in all forms but if you want to keep things vegan, try using plant-based milks and cheeses, and olive oil in place of butter.
The simplest transformation you can make is to stir something green and worthy into a standard mash. Irish colcannon is the classic, where cooked greens and a little onion is added.
Pack that into an oven dish, top with cheese and bake it and you have a dish called ‘rumbledethumps‘ – as good a dish to say as it is to eat. Less reliant on a perfect mash, and ideal for using up bashed leftover roasties and roots, is a much-loved breakfast bubble and squeak.
Try mixing your potatoes 50/50 with another root veg to subtly change its character. Most of the other roots are unlikely to mash as smoothly as potatoes so you may choose to see a little lumpiness as part of the character, or blitz the additional veg for a better consistency.
Parsnips or celeriac will add sweetness and fragrance. Swede or carrots will add earthy notes and a subtle change in colour; clapshot (also known as neeps and tatties) is a perfect example that almost demands to be left slightly lumpy and unrefined.
You can lose the spuds altogether and get mashing with any roots you fancy. This swede and carrot recipe is harmonious and lifted by a hint of star anise. The classic Greek whipped potato dip Skordalia is equally as delectable with parsnips instead. Meanwhile, the British-grown staple swede becomes the star of the curious savoury-sweet Finnish dish Lanttulaatikko.