Old Mashed Potatoes

Old mashed potatoes are rare at our house, even when I’m the one making them. If I make the mash, then I do it old English style. The potatoes are unpeeled. They are hand mashed with a masher. They have lumps. They have character. They put hair on your chest and a nasty sticking feeling inside it. But even then there are rarely leftovers. When Jan makes them, she makes them Southern, ‘goddess of fat’ style. I have seen her use three sticks of butter and a pint of heavy cream without blinking – admittedly on ten pounds of spuds, but even so…

She fluffs them and whips them and loads them with fat and air molecules until you barely notice you are eating them at all. So even fewer get left over.

But sometimes, like when we make ten pounds of spuds (plus butter, plus cream, plus milk, plus salt) for six people, just to accompany a roast leg of lamb, vegetables and after some appetizers, sometimes, we have leftovers.

Now old mashed potatoes are pretty easy to reuse. Although the old lumpy bumpy kind are actually more versatile, you can still do things with the creamy ones too. Just don’t try to fry them straight into potato pancake things – they just ooze and ooze and slowly return the fat and cream and milk whence it came and then you can’t pick ’em up with a spatula and everything gets messy. For pancakes you want the heavy kind.

But I did find something innovative and really useful to do with leftover creamy mash. I make gnocci. It is even easy. All you really do is mix in small amounts of flour and repeat until what you have is like a dough and can have little balls pulled off a rolled up.

Leftover Mash Baked Gnocci with Tomato Sauce and Parmesan

You’ll need at least 3 cups of left over mash for this. Mix in 3/4 cup of flour carefully with a wooden spoon and work it in thoroughly. Then just keep kneading in a little more flour at a time until the mixture becomes like a dough and can be pulled apart into little gnocci sized balls.

Boil a big pot of water and salt it freely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get out casserole dish and grease it with olive oil. Make some basic tomato sauce or use a jar. Pour about an inch depth of sauce into the casserole. Now when the water boils to a rolling boil, gently drop the gnocci into it with a slotted spoon. Just keep going until they are all in. After about 3 minutes they will start to pop back up to the top of the water. When it looks like they have all made it back to the top, gently lift them out again with the spoon and put them in the casserole on top of the tomato sauce. Pour in more tomato sauce on top – another 1 inch layer. Then sprinkle thickly with parmesan. Stick in the oven to bake until bubbling. Remove and sprinkle again with parmesan.

This was a delightful discovery and one that will come into play again when (if) we have left over mash.

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