Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Garlic
* 6 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch
* 2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
* 3/4 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 3 1/2 cups half-and-half
* 2 Tbs. roasted garlic puree
To make: Roast 2 cloves of garlic rubbed with olive oil in a 400 degree oven til golden.
Remove from oven and use a fork to mash into a paste or puree in a blender
* Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Put the potatoes and the 2 tsp. salt in a large stockpot and add water to cover the potatoes by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp and browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour the bacon fat into a small bowl and reserve, if desired, for adding to the mashed potatoes.
Return the pan to medium heat and pour in the half-and-half. Heat, stirring to scrape up the browned bits, until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat.
Set a potato ricer over the pot and pass the potatoes through in batches. Alternatively, return the potatoes to the pot and mash them with a potato masher. Gradually add the half-and-half, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Fold in the bacon, the roasted garlic puree and up to 2 Tbs. of the reserved bacon fat, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 12.