Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes Recipe from Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron. Photo courtesy of The Guardiannora ephron heartburn quote

In an earlier post, I recommended Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, the story of a faltering marriage that is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and is based on Ephron’s marriage to Carl Bernstein. But the book is more than just a good read with a witty, brilliantly-crafted narrator; it’s chock-full of delicious-sounding recipes I am aching to try, ranging from the more traditional to ones I’ve never heard of, like this lima bean and pears dish.

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, it’s the perfect time to try out a new version of those classic holiday dishes. Why not impress your literary-minded friends and family with a recipe and words from a famous author?

Enter Heartburn’s recipe for mashed potatoes, a simple comfort food that the book’s narrator, Rachel Samstat, weaves into a commentary on relationships:

“In the end, I always want potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Nothing like mashed potatoes when you’re feeling blue. Nothing like getting into bed with a bowl of hot mashed potatoes already loaded with butter, and methodically adding a thin cold slice of butter to every forkful. The problem with mashed potatoes, though is that they require almost as much hard work as crisp potatoes, and when you’re feeling blue the last thing you feel like is hard work. Of course, you can always get someone to make the mashed potatoes for you, but let’s face it: the reason you’re blue is that there isn’t anyone to make them for you. As a result, most people do not have nearly enough mashed potatoes in their lives, and when they do, it’s almost always at the wrong time.”

While Rachel envisions mashed potatoes as the archetypal break-up food, I think it’s just as appropriate to turn this indulgent recipe for one into an occasion to celebrate togetherness. Why not quadruple, octuple, or duodecuple (yes, it is a word! And one I plan on using more often) the serving and use Ephron’s own words to inspire gratitude for loved ones on Thanksgiving?

Here’s the recipe, along with some pictures of the process – I had to try them out first, right?


nora ephron mashed potatoes recipe


2014-11-18 06.34.14_edited
Gathering together the ingredients.


Simmering potatoes.
Simmering potatoes.
Mmmm. Butter.
Mmmm. Butter.
Voilà! Deliciously simple mashed potatoes.

I made a few slight variations, which you can either deem sacrilegious or try for yourself. I didn’t have heavy cream on hand, so I used half & half instead (and a little extra butter to compensate!). I also added some olive oil to the salted water as the potatoes were cooking.

Last, because I wanted just a little bit of extra flavor and spice, I added in a pinch of fresh grated garlic (about ½ clove for two large potatoes). Make sure not to overdo the garlic though, or it’ll overpower the potatoes.

Hope you enjoy!

For more recipes from Ephron, check out Huffington Post’s tribute to the author.

What did you think of the recipe? Post your own thoughts or variations in the comments section.

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