When my response to a given recipe or dish is, “that’s fucked up,” you can consider it a high compliment indeed. It denotes a certain amount of decadence, a hint of “this should not be,” and a touch of perversion, but also that the dish in question is quite delicious. And port wine cheese mashed potatoes—or “cheeseball potatoes” for short—are certainly fucked up.
I hesitate to call this a “recipe,” because beyond seasonings and garnishes (which are all dealer’s choice), it only has two real ingredients: Yukon Gold potatoes and port wine cheese spread.
For those not familiar with port wine cheese, it’s a processed cheese spread make with cheddar, a couple of different kinds of whey, cream, and (obviously) a bit of port wine (and food coloring). You don’t really taste the wine, but you do taste a slight sweetness, along with a tangy, sharp cheese flavor. If you’re familiar with the port wine cheese ball, you know of what I speak.
I wish I could say this recipe took some futzing and fiddling to get right, but it really didn’t. My worries the cheese spread would be too firm to blend with the spuds were quickly proven unfounded; it blended like a dream. I boiled two pounds of potatoes, pushed them through a ricer, then mixed them with a tub of port wine cheese. I seasoned with a little salt and white pepper. I then garnished the spuds with crunchy fried garlic and scallions, though bacon would be pretty good too. (If you would put it on a cheeseball, you can put it on/in these potatoes).
Cheeseball Mashed Potatoes
- 2 pounds mashed potatoes
- 6 1/2-ounces (1 tub) or port wine cheese spread
- Salt and white pepper (or regular pepper if you’d rather)
- Garnishes: Whatever you like on your cheese ball; scallions, chives, fried garlic, bacon bits, and even toasted nuts would all work.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, and chop your potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Boil until they can be easily mashed with a fork, about 15-25 minutes. Dump the potatoes in the colander and give them a quick rinse under warm water to remove excess starch (this keeps the potatoes from getting gloopy while stirring in the port wine).
Push the potatoes through a ricer or food mill, then add the port wine cheese and stir with a big wooden spoon until the potatoes take on a uniform orange color. Taste and season with white pepper if needed. Transfer potatoes to a bowl, then garnish with your favorite cheeseball toppings. Serve immediately.
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