I think it’s funny that people look forward to mashed potatoes every Thanksgiving, because there’s no culinary law against eating mashed potatoes any day of the week. If you don’t have a ton of time to fuss with cooking them, but you still want to add a burst of last-second flavor, there’s a secret weapon in my arsenal that I’m going to reveal to you now: Boursin Cheese.
If you’ve never had Boursin, fix that immediately. This creamy and crumbly Gournay cheese was invented in 1957 by François Boursin (of course) in Normandy, France. It’s widely available; you’ll find it in your local supermarket’s cheese section or refrigerator case, packed in little foil rounds inside a cardboard box. Varieties include Caramelized Onion and Herbs, Shallot and Chive, and a host of other flavors—but what you’ll want for your mashed potatoes is Garlic and Herb, the original Boursin flavor.
Boursin’s official recipe dictates the ideal proportions: Crumble up 5.2 ounces of Boursin (the contents of one box) for every four large potatoes used. You can still add in the same amount of butter and cream that you normally would, but don’t add those ingredients until you do a little tasting. Boursin is quite rich, so it’ll add some extra fat to your potatoes by default, and you might not need as much of the other stuff to season them. (You can also sub in the dairy-free version if desired.)
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“Boursin is the ancestral predecessor of ranch dressing, with its garlicky foundation taken to the edge of too salty,” Bon Appétit explains. In this case, salty is okay—that way you won’t have to season the potatoes as heavily as you normally would for an indulgent serving. And no, the final product won’t taste like you’ve dumped ranch dressing on your potatoes; that’s just Bon Appétit taking some creative liberties.
Boursin has a fresher and more complex flavor than ranch, which will elevate your spuds in a semi-elegant way. This secret ingredient is sure to evoke praise from the mashed potato connoisseurs at your dining room table this Thanksgiving. And if you have any leftover Boursin, it tastes great on crackers as a midnight snack, which you definitely deserve after a long day of cooking.