I know most of you out there are happily planning your Thanksgiving menus, or choosing what you’ll contribute to your family’s spread.  Me, I’ve barely given it more than two minutes of thought.  Well, truthfully I think my subconscious has been running the topic ragged but my mind and heart aren’t quite there yet.  Last year on Thanksgiving I was just 30 minutes into the hours of prep work I had planned for our big family dinner that day when I got the news that my dad had passed away suddenly that morning.  World rocked.  Nothing has been the same since.  The last year has been pretty terrible, and that’s an understatement.

As November has come and the anniversary of that date rapidly approaches, I’m a little shaky on how to proceed.  At first we thought we would skip a holiday meal altogether, that it would be too painful.  I’m sure it will be, but it’s also a day to be spent with family, and since it was Dad’s favorite holiday I know the best we can do to honor his memory is spend it remembering him and doing what he loved.  So we are still planning to host, though on a much smaller scale than in the past.  Hence why I haven’t been posting about Thanksgiving strategies or recipes all that much.  But I do have a few things to share with you before next Thursday.  These roasted garlic mashed potatoes seemed important to share for multiple reasons.  First and foremost, Dad taught me how to make mashed potatoes.  Even as someone who learned to cook by diligently following recipes, this was the one thing I learned to make by feel thanks to Dad.  Second, mashed potatoes have always been one of my very favorite dishes on the Thanksgiving table.  And third, they are comfort food.  We could use some comfort right about now.

Many readers have asked for my mashed potato recipe in the past but since I always made it by feel, I didn’t have a reliable recipe to share.  This time I made them as I always do, but I took careful notes as I went along so you can recreate them at your house.  They are pretty basic, with the addition of roasted garlic being the only special thing about them.  Everyone seems to have a preference on how they make their potatoes and this is how I like mine.  Light and fluffy, smooth without chunks, and just a tiny bit fancy thanks to the roasted garlic.  I hope you enjoy them too!

I also just have to send a quick note of gratitude to the lovely, thoughtful readers who have already sent me notes of sympathy, concern, and hope in anticipation of the difficult anniversary ahead.  I really have the best readers and I can’t thank you enough for being here, reading along, and taking the time to wish us well.  You have no idea how much I appreciate it.


1 bulb garlic, intact
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
6 large russett potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. salt, plus more as needed
1 cup milk, plus more as needed
Minced chives, for garnish (optional)


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Use a sharp knife to slice off the top end so that the bulb remains intact and all of the cloves are exposed.  Place on a piece of aluminum foil.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fold the foil around the bulb so that it is completely covered and bake until the cloves are tender, about 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before handling.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze the bulb so that the softened cloves fall out.  Discard the peels.  Use the tines of a fork to mash the roasted garlic into a paste.  Set aside.

  • 02

    Place the chopped potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Continue to cook uncovered until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15-18 minutes.  Drain well.

  • 03

    Return the potatoes to the warm pot.  Add in the butter, salt, milk, and the roasted garlic paste.  With an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, adding more milk as needed.  Avoid over-beating.*  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.  Garnish with minced chives.  Serve warm.

  • 04

    *I’ve heard many times that potatoes can become gummy when mixed with an electric mixer.  This is the only way I’ve ever done it and I’ve never encountered that issue.  Even so, I try to mix only as long as is necessary to achieve the smooth texture that I prefer.