- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Born and bred Southerners, my husband and I had never come near a pair of skis, but we now live in New England, not far from several ski areas, and have many friends who spend winter weekends on the slopes.

When invited to join them, we politely explain that we’d be happy to read while they ride the lifts and race down the hills. We do, however, adore the idea of hearty, apres-ski meals, and I am always willing to contribute a dish to such menus.

There is something about cold weather that rouses people’s appetites for robust fare. Satisfying stews, bowls of steaming soups served with dense peasant loaves, and slowly roasted meats and vegetables all come to mind. As a cook, I love the challenge of preparing these lusty, casual foods to counter the chilly temperatures outside.

A new recipe in my repertoire — smashed potatoes drizzled with caraway cheese sauce — fits perfectly into a menu for apres-ski or, for that matter, apres-skating, -sledding or just about any other winter sporting activity. It involves very little preparation.

I simply boil Yukon Gold potatoes in their skins until tender, drain and smash them, and then stir in warmed milk or half-and-half. The potatoes are mounded in a serving bowl and layered with a no-fuss sauce made by melting grated caraway havarti cheese with milk or half-and-half.

Piled high and garnished with a sprinkling of chopped parsley, the potatoes would make a tempting garnish to all manner of entrees. I like to pair them with grilled kielbasa sausages and a small pot of mustard, but they are equally good offered with roasted chicken, braised short ribs or boiled corned beef. However or whenever you serve them, these delicious smashed potatoes are sure to please the hungriest of winter sports enthusiasts.

Smashed potatoes

POTATOES:

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

2/3 cup whole milk or half-and-half, warmed

1 teaspoon salt plus more, to taste

3/4 teaspoon pepper

CARAWAY CHEESE SAUCE AND GARNISH:

10 ounces havarti cheese with caraway seeds, grated

1/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

To make the potatoes, bring a large pot of water to boil and add the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain potatoes and return them to the pan in which they were cooked. Smash them with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Add the warm milk or half-and-half and the salt and pepper.

Mix until liquid is absorbed. Taste and add more salt, if desired.

To make the cheese sauce, place cheese and milk or half-and-half in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

Scoop half the potatoes into a serving bowl and top with half the cheese sauce; repeat with remaining potatoes and cheese sauce. Sprinkle parsley over the potatoes.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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