I was going to write about Beef Wellington:

beef sliced

I was going to tell you how easy it is to update. How it requires very little hands-on time. How it was the perfect star of our Christmas dinner and how it deserves a place at your next party.

But I can’t.

I can’t lie to you.

Beef Wellington is time-intensive. It’s hard to carve. The mushroom paste doesn’t adhere to the beef. The puff pastry is just a scosh this side of soggy.

And it’s fattening. If I’m going to ingest all those calories, it better be for something really special.

Like these potatoes:

duchess potatoes

These lovely puffs of mashed potatoes are spiked with egg yolks, drizzled with butter, sprinkled with smoked paprika and baked to a golden brown. They take about as much time to make as a pot of mashed spuds, and they stole my Christmas heart.

“Duchess” potatoes hail from France, but I can see Americanizing them in all kinds of ways. I could spike them with herbs; fold bits of prosciutto or other meats into them; top them with melted, gooey cheese.

I’ll get a chance to do all those things. Unlike Beef Wellington, this is a dish I’ll make again!

Duchess Potatoes (Adapted from “The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook”)

christmas dinner

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (I used four large ones)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Peel the potatoes. Cut them into chunks and place them in a large pot of cold, salted water.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are very tender, then drain.

Mash the potatoes with the 1/4 cup of butter and the milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The mixture will be pretty dense. If it seems too dry, add a little olive oil to lighten it up.

Cool the potatoes for 10 minutes, then add the egg yolks. Beat well.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, then make the potato puffs. You can do this in one of two ways:

1. Either place the potato mixture in a pastry bag with a large tip and pipe 2-inch rosettes on your baking sheets, or

2. Spoon out tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets.

If you’re making these ahead of time, cover them loosely with plastic wrap and chill for up to 3 hours.

If you want to finish them immediately, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the melted butter over each puff, then sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the bottoms are nicely browned and the potatoes hold their shape when you move them.

Eat immediately — with or without a hunk of beef.

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