Don’t you think that chains serve too big a portion? I can’t possibly eat all those mashed potatoes by myself. Signed, Clean Plate Club.A:
Dear Clean Plate Club, while I agree with the theory of eating everything on the plate, just like Mom taught the Baby Boomer generation. I also remember another commonly uttered phrase… share your food. Many times chains want to make an impression, and a little larger portion looks pretty impressive on a plate. At Gibson’s Steakhouse in Chicago and their other nearby locations, the mashed potatoes come out to the table as a mountain of spuds. Most times, if you listen carefully, the server will casually mention that the portions should be shared. At Smith & Wollensky, another steak chain, they indicate right on the menu “For Two”. Unless I am traveling, the larger portions become a second meal, part of the thinking behind the original concept of the Cheesecake Factory and others. It’s a chance to get you thinking about what a wonderful experience you had when dining in.
If you can’t share, bring home the mashed potatoes. The next night, pull them out of the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave and fold in some favorite fixin’s. Try adding some shredded cheese, cream cheese or plain yogurt. Add in a couple of spoonfuls of grainy mustard. Heat up and drizzle some warm olive oil over the potatoes.
Another trick is to turn those mashed potatoes into potato pancakes. Form the chilled mashed into patties, dredge in a mixture of spices and Panko or dried bread crumbs. Place in a skillet with a little oil (butter may burn before the potatoes get heated thru) and cook till done.