Duchess potatoes are an elegantly displayed mashed potato dish. They are dollops of mashed potatoes that are shaped in such a way that they resemble a meringue. Depending on the exact manner in which duchess potatoes are shaped, they can even look like a rose. As these potatoes can be sculpted to form such artful creations, it is no surprise that they are given such an elegant, royal name.
One of the delicious aspects of duchess potatoes is the variation in texture within the dish. In most cases, once the mashed potatoes have been shaped to the chef's satisfaction, they are baked. Although the interior of the potatoes remains soft and creamy, the edges of the textured top become crispy. Once they are finished baking, duchess potatoes are often served as a side along with a protein such as fish, steak, or chicken and a vegetable of some sort as well. Before serving, duchess potatoes are often topped with just a dusting of chopped parsley for both aesthetics and flavor.
The size of the duchess potatoes and the desired level of crispiness on the edges will indicate the amount of time that they should be baked. There are a number of methods, however, for baking the potatoes. They can either be baked on a baking sheet or in muffin tins. Some chefs even bake each individual serving of duchess potatoes in its own pot, which will be served right from the oven to the table.
There are a number of ways to create the textured edges of duchess potatoes. Some chefs simply shape the mashed potatoes into a mound with a spoon and then use a fork or similar instrument to shape the edges. Others use the kind of pipe used by pastry chefs to shape icing on cakes in order to get the perfect shape for the potatoes. An icing pipe, however, is not necessary as long as the chef has a steady hand and a bit of patience to shape each serving of the potatoes.
There are a number of recipes for duchess potatoes that include various kinds of flavoring. The plainest recipes simply call for butter and salt. Other more elaborate recipes, however, call for paprika or white pepper. The flavoring of the potatoes is entirely up to the chef and can be adjusted to complement different entrees. Some recipes, for example, call for an inclusion of cheddar or Parmesan cheese in the mashed potatoes that are shaped into the duchess shape.