While many of you might need some creative ideas for turkey beyond heat and eat or sandwiches right now, I must confess that I rarely ever have leftovers of that variety. I tend to buy a bird just big enough to get us through the meal, and the carcass goes into a pot to make some stock at the end of the evening. This used to drive Mikey a bit crazy, but not being much of a turkey eater myself, it never ruffled my feathers.
Side dishes are another story. I must have mashed potato insecurity issues because I always make more than we need (even on regular weeknights). Virginia firmly believes she can survive on them, and I suppose with enough butter and milk, it might count as a well-balanced meal. I find mashed potatoes to be one of those foods that taste pretty good on their own when simply heated up, but what do you do when you’re left with just a meager cupful? What one might see as trash, I see as opportunity. That’s how my recipe for this focaccia came to be. Potato bread is one of my favorites, so combining that love with an Italian-inspired bread recipe was a no-brainer.
As my guy noted, there isn’t a distinct potato flavor. It’s more about what the addition of mashed potatoes does to the focaccia. They add a light, springy quality to the finished product. It’s perfect for eating as-is, or split in half to make sandwiches (turkey, anyone?). Any leftover focaccia can be cubed and toasted to use as croutons (that’s like leftovers squared, right?).
I’ve made this plenty of times doing two rises. The first one after preparing the dough, and a second one in the pan. On my most recent batch, I decided to skip the first rise. Turns out the one rise is really all this focaccia needs. Be patient, and plan wisely, though. Depending on the temperature and humidity in your house, it’ll take a few hours for a proper rise. And you don’t want to skimp on this step, unless flat, dense focaccia is your goal. The one I made a few days ago took three full hours since our temperatures dropped dramatically earlier this week. No doubt that time would be significantly less on a hot, humid summer day. You can even experiment with making the dough the night before, and letting it ferment in the fridge. You’ll need to give it time to come to room temperature, and rise in the pan, so it’s not like you’d save any time. The overnight fermentation would develop the flavors a bit, though, so it’s worth a try. Let me know if you do.
On a lazy holiday Friday, the rise should be a breeze. Making the dough is also a fun project to do with the kiddos. You can curl up to watch a family movie while the yeast works its magic. That sounds like a perfect way to rest, relax, and gear up for the busyness December is sure to bring. And remember Thanksgiving comes once a year, but being thankful is something we can practice every day. I hope this long weekend is filled with much love, peace, and happiness for you all.
Makes one 9-inch x 13-inch loaf
Be patient, and plan wisely. Depending on the temperature and humidity in your house, it’ll take a few hours for the dough to rise sufficiently—don’t skimp on this step, unless flat, dense focaccia is your goal. The one I made a few days ago took 3 full hours since our temperatures dropped dramatically earlier this week. That time would be significantly less on a hot, humid summer day. You can experiment with making the dough the night before, and letting it ferment in the fridge. You’ll need to give it time to come to room temperature, and rise in the pan, so it’s not like you’d save any time. The overnight fermentation would develop the flavors a bit, though, so it’s worth a try.
2 1/2 cups (450 grams) “00” flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon (4 grams) instant yeast (I use Red Star)
1 teaspoon (6 grams) fine sea salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups (225 to 300 grams) warm water
1 cup (230 grams) cold, cooked mashed potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse sea salt, to taste
Add the flour, yeast, and salt to a deep bowl. Whisk to combine.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the warm water. Stir until it forms a scraggly-looking dough. Add the mashed potatoes, and stir until the dough becomes smoother. You may need some (or all) of the remaining water, depending on how wet your potatoes were before adding them to the dough.
Lightly flour a counter or cutting board. Turn the dough out onto the counter, and sprinkle with a bit more flour. Knead, adding more flour, as needed, until the dough is smooth, and no longer sticky.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch by 13-inch by 2-inch. Press the dough into the pan, all the way to the sides. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and then drape a towel over it. Set the pan in warm (not hot) spot, until the dough has tripled in volume, (it should rise almost to the top of the pan).
30 minutes before the dough looks ready, preheat the oven to 450ºF.
When ready to bake, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes into the dough (the dough will deflate slightly; don’t worry). Drizzle olive oil and some salt on top.
Bake on the center rack of the oven until deep golden brown and hollow when tapped with the tip of your finger, about 25 minutes.
Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving (30 minutes is preferable if you can wait that long).