In this time of coolness and quietness, when the world folds back up into itself and is cloaked in fog, snow, and the husk of winter, turning to the kitchen is a natural comfort. Eating deliciously warm and spicy food is of course a big part of our holiday traditions, but also the act of creating is especially lovely at this time of year. The plants outside are hibernating or dying, preparing to be reborn but not quite there. Using our hands, hearts, and minds to create inside the kitchen can be a thoughtful and grounding reminder of life persisting in the middle of all that gorgeous slowness.
If I am waxing a bit poetic today, gazing out at the overcast autumn sky, then let me get back to humility with this rustic, humble dish. These rustic mashed potatoes are simple, mashed enough to do the job without being concerned with a “perfect” texture. The herbed mushroom gravy is silky and rich, vegetarian by nature but could be made with bone broth for an added depth of flavor. What I love best about this dish is how perfect it is next to just about any vegetable or protein, but so quickly and easily made it can be almost an afterthought.
Choosing the Best Potatoes for Mashing
I am one of those people who has Potato Opinions on what type does the best kind of job. It all has to do with the texture of the potato once cooked.
- Idaho: fluffy and light, best for baking
- Red: creamy and starchy, best for roasting or boiling
- Yukon or yellow: lower starch, best for mashing
This is by no means exhaustive or definitive, but it’s my rule of thumb when buying your standard potatoes at the grocery. For this recipe, I’m specifically using yellow potatoes, but truly use whatever potatoes you have on hand or you like best.
Making the Herbed Mushroom Gravy
Like many of my sauces, this is a roux-based gravy. Here are the two most important tips for making a roux in general:
- Stick to the ratio. If you are super lax with how much fat or flour you use, you will end up with a very different sauce. Measure out this part and stick to the recipe.
- Pay attention. To paraphrase Joyce from Kindergarten Cop, a roux “is like the ocean…you don’t want to turn your back on it.” Constantly whisk your roux and notice the color and smell as it toasts. You are cooking that flour to deepen the flavor of your gravy, and for this recipe you really want to develop the roux before you add your liquid. It’s not hard – literally just whisking and watching – but you can’t walk away from it.
I originally developed this to be vegetarian, so I call for vegetable stock here. You can make this with bone broth or meat stock, but you may want to adjust the volume of liquid to get the consistency you prefer.
This gravy is an excellent vegetarian option to use all over the place! It also can easily be made with turkey or chicken drippings as well. Some other serving ideas are meatballs, country fried steak, a steak and cheese open-faced sandwich, or even over biscuits for a fancy breakfast!
Prepping & Storing Rustic Mashed Potatoes with Herbed Mushroom Gravy
This recipe can easily be made or prepped ahead. Here are a few time-saving tips on making this dish:
Make and refrigerate the gravy. The herbed mushroom gravy can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before serving. Reheat it in a pan on the stove being careful not to scorch it when you are ready to serve.
Prep the potatoes. Cut and store the potatoes in the fridge for up to one day prior to cooking. You can cover the cut potatoes with cold water, then cover with foil or a lid until you are ready to cook them. Strain out the water, recover with fresh water, add salt, and go from there.
You cannot freeze the gravy without the texture suffering, though. I suggest making the gravy 1-2 days ahead if planning a holiday meal. To store, put the gravy and potatoes into separate containers, heating them up separately before serving again.
Rustic Mashed Potatoes with Herbed Mushroom Gravy
For the Rustic Mashed Potatoes
- 2 pounds yellow potatoes
- 1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
For the Herbed Mushroom Gravy
- 2 pounds baby bella or white button mushrooms
- 1 cup vegetable stock Optional: Replace with bone broth or chicken stock.
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons AP flour Optional: make this gluten free by using an AP gluten free baking flour.
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- salt & pepper to taste
To Make the Rustic Mashed Potatoes
- Wash and chop your potatoes into cubes roughly the same size.
- Add them to a pot, then add the salt and cover them with cool water. The potatoes should be fully submerged.
- Bring the potatoes to a boil.
- Once they are boiling, cook the potatoes until they can be easily cut by a fork. Do not let them boil until they completely dissolve or fall apart when cut with a fork, though. The exact time depends on too many factors, so keep an eye on them and test them until they are ready.
- Carefully drain the water and return the potatoes to the pot, but not to the heat.
- Add the butter and half and half, then mash the potatoes to your preferred texture. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Add more butter or half and half, too, if you wish!
To Make the Herbed Mushroom Gravy
- Put the stock into the fridge. It will incorporate better later if it's chilly.
- Wash, dry, and chop your mushrooms into small cubes or slices depending on how you want them in your gravy.
- Peel and mince your onion. Prepare the rest of your ingredients so they are easily ready to go for your gravy.
- Add a small amount of olive oil to a skillet. Sprinkle with salt, then saute your onion over medium heat for several minutes or until translucent.
- Add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, then saute for 5-7 minutes or until most of the moisture is cooked out and they look ready to eat.
- Scoot your mushroom mixture to the edges of the pan. If you prefer, you can totally remove the mushrooms from the pan to a bowl, then return the pan to the heat.
- Add the butter to the middle of the pan and allow it to melt, then sprinkle with the flour, whisking to combine. You do not want lumps at all.
- Cook your roux, whisking constantly, for at least 10 minutes. The mixture should be bubbling, not boiling or scortching. Adjust the heat if you need to. After 10 minutes, it should be smoother and smell kind of like popcorn. You can cook your roux for up to 20 minutes if you want a nuttier flavor.
- Slowly add the stock to your roux, adding it little by little and constantly whisking to fully incorporate the liquid before adding any more.
- Add the mushroom mixture back into the pan along with the herbs. Stir and cook the gravy until completely heated through. If you prefer, reduce the gravy at this stage for a thicker texture. Taste and adjust for herbs and salt.
- Pour over your mashed potatoes, serving everything hot.