Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wensleydale Mashed Potatoes

Wensleydale is a place and a cheese.  The place is a valley (dale) of the Ure River, which is located in North Yorkshire in northeast England.  Wensleydale has its place in English history.  Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned at Bolton Castle, which is located in the dale.

As for the cheese, its history predates Mary, Queen of Scots.  Wensleydale cheese was first produced by French Cistercian monks from Roquefort who settled in Wensleydale.  Historically, the Wensleydale cheese was a blue cheese, originally made from sheep's milk.  Over time, the monks and other producers made Wensleydale cheese from cow's milk.  In addition, the cheese went from being a blue cheese to a white cheese.  When  the monastery was dissolved in 1540, (two years before Mary was born) English farmers picked up the slack and continued to produce this cheese until the Second World War.  During the war, most of the milk in Great Britain was used to make "Government Cheddar."  After the end of the war, farmers resumed producing Wensleydale, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Wensleydale cheese is somewhat moist and can be crumbled, which makes this cheese a good candidate for being incorporated into mashed potatoes.  Typically, when I make mashed potatoes, I use either a hard cheese, such as grated Parmigianio Reggiano or Pecornio Romano.  I also use blue cheese, such as Maytag or Rogue.  When Clare and I were recently perusing the cheese aisle at a local grocery store, we came across the Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries.  We both love this cheese and have had it on prior occasions.  So, we decided that it would be worth trying to make mashed potatoes with the cheese.  Our hope was that the cranberries would add an interesting flavor component to the dish.  So, the recipe for Wensleydale Mashed Potatoes was born, just in time for it to be a side dish with the Herb Crusted Rib Roast with Bordeaux Thyme Au Jus

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 10

8 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths
4 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of milk
4/10s or 1/2 of a pound of Wensleydale Cheese with Cranberries

1.  Boil the potatoes in a pot of water for about ten of fifteen minutes. 

2. When the potatoes are soft and break up with a fork, strain the potatoes and return them to the pot.  

3.  Add the butter and milk and begin to mash the potatoes.  Add the Wensleydale cheese, a little at a time as you are mashing the potatoes.  Continue to mash the potatoes until they achieve the desired smoothness.  Personally, I like my mashed potatoes to have some chunks in them.  But you can keep mashing them until they are smooth.  


For more about Wensleydale Cheese, check out Wikipedia

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