Here on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last time, chef Jason Marcus of New York’s Traif had a shout-out for the tacos carnitas at Los Angeles taqueria Loteria, as made by chef Jimmy Shaw. Now Shaw brings it back to New York. What dish really moves you, Mr. Shaw?
"This summer, I went to Porter House, Michael Lomonaco’s restaurant at Columbus Circle in New York. He’s a friend and he brought out quite a few great dishes, including these incredible truffled mashed potatoes that, to me, were just Nirvana."
Chef Michael Lomonaco explains what makes his truffled potatoes so tasty:
"Yukon gold potatoes are what you’ll find very available on the market, and we love those for mashed potatoes. Just a beautiful mashed potato, boiling potato — great for our purpose. That’s what we serve: We serve truffled mashed potatoes. Occasionally, people will ask for it without the truffle butter; they’ll want a simple mashed potato and that’s our base, but adding truffle butter at the end … that gives it its vibrancy.
We make our own truffle butter. We buy broken truffles, truffle pieces, you know, remnant truffles … that’s the thing. We use truffle pieces and we use truffle oil and we use really high-grade butter — Plugra. Our truffle butter [has] a really fragrant flavor and aroma to it. We just boil, steam the potatoes, and mash them and finish them with warm heavy cream, salt and pepper, and then that’s our mashed potato, and we can hold a batch of that for service, you know, keep it warm, and then for each order … we use our own truffle butter to finish those potatoes.
So you get this really fragrant aroma and taste of the truffles, because it hasn’t dissipated. If you were to put it in when you take the potatoes off the fire … it would dissipate by the time you served it. So we’re finishing each order of truffled mashed potatoes to order, so you get these really fragrant, forward aroma and taste of the truffle butter. We basically whip the butter — we take really high-quality sweet butter and then we put that into a Kitchen Aid, a little mixer — we whip in our truffle pieces, we season with salt, and we whip in the truffle oil so it emulsifies into the butter, so it’s really in a tight suspension in the butter so it doesn’t break. That truffle oil is a really high-quality truffle oil, in other words, not genetically modified. Real truffle oil from real truffles — a smaller, European manufacturer. Those are black truffles. We use a black-truffle oil and black truffles. We source black truffles from the Italian truffle guys.
For each order, we take out four ounces of mashed potatoes, put it into a pan, a little saucepan with a little bit of heavy cream, take two tablespoons of heavy cream, we whip in a tablespoon of truffle butter for every four ounces of mashed potatoes. It’s really like whipping the potatoes again, so it’s almost like a truffled whipped potato."