Nov. 21, 2011 at 11:11 AM ET
Fall is one of my favorite seasons to visit the farmers market. Everywhere you turn you’ll find bins brimming with squash, eggplant, apples, pears, potatoes and more. The farmers market I go to is about to head indoors for the winter, so I’ve been trying to get my fill before the season ends. One of my favorite stands is run by Blooming Hill Farm, an organic family run farm in Blooming Hill, N.Y. I frequently buy my greens and herbs there and recently, I picked up some Kennebec potatoes on the recommendation of the farm’s owner, Guy Jones.
The Kennebec is pretty as far as potatoes go, with light, tan skin and a nice oval shape. As for texture, it’s neither as dry as a russet or as waxy as a Yukon, making it ideal for fries, chips and mashed potatoes. It’s also got some history—the Kennebec hails from Maine and dates back to the 1940s. And then there’s the taste. These spuds are super flavorful without being overly starchy, which is why they’re a favorite of chefs and home cooks alike. Unfortunately, Kennebecs can be hard to find in grocery stores, so check your local farmers market.
I can’t think of a better time to try Kennebecs than at Thanksgiving, when potatoes in some form are most certainly on your menu. In my Italian-American family, many traditional Thanksgiving dishes were given the Italian treatment—a healthy dose of sauce, sausage, cheese or all three—and mashed potatoes were no exception. Every holiday my mother made potato cake as our spud-inspired side dish, and when I was thinking about what to make with my Kennebecs, the potato cake came to mind. I don’t think a recipe existed—the cooks in my family operated by the “a little of this, a little of that” philosophy, so I recreated it from memory. Contrary to its name, the finished product will look more like a casserole than a cake, but it’s delicious either way and a tasty twist on mashed tubulars. Happy Thanksgiving!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Mash and add the half and half and butter and whip, leaving the consistency slightly lumpy. Meanwhile, brown sausage in a skillet, drain the excess fat, and add to the potato mixture. Stir mozzarella into the mixture. Spread the mixture into an 8x8 inch square baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, cut into squares and serve.
Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats from Michelle Hainer at Made By Michelle.