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This is a big potato cake made of mashed potatoes and is finished in the oven. The result is a creamy interior and crisp crust. You'll go nuts, especially if you're a garlic lover.
Other vegetables you can use: any winter squash or root vegetable.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 hour, partly unattended

• 2 starchy or all-purpose potatoes, like Idaho, russet, or Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into chunks
• 1/2 cup cream or milk
• 2 heads garlic, cloves peeled
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted, or extra virgin olive oil
• 2 eggs, beaten
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start boiling the potatoes (peeled or unpeeled). Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Meanwhile, put the cream and garlic cloves in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic softens, about 15 minutes. Check the potatoes; they're done when a skewer or sharp knife inserted into one meets almost no resistance. Drain well.

3. Mash or rice the potatoes or run them through a food mill. When smooth, stir in 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the melted butter or oil along with the garlic mixture. Mash and stir with a wooden spoon to smooth out all the lumps. Stir in the eggs. Sprinkle with a fair amount of salt and some pepper.

4. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil in a large ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick or cast iron, over medium heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, put the mashed potatoes in the pan and press down a bit to spread them around evenly. Cook, undisturbed, until they brown around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the pie is golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for a bit, then run a knife around the edge of the pan to make sure nothing is stuck. Put a plate over the pan and turn the pie out. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Garlicky Mashed Potato Pie with Cheese. Great for lunch with soup or salad:
Follow the recipe through Step 4. While the pie is baking, grate 1 cup cheddar or Gruyere cheese. When the pie is ready, sprinkle the cheese on top and turn on the broiler. Put the pie under the broiler, about 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Watch carefully and remove the pan as soon as the cheese begins to melt and bubble, only a couple of minutes. Serve immediately.

Garlicky Mashed Potato Hotcakes. Nice topped with sour cream and chives or served like bread with a hearty vegetable stew: Follow the recipe through Step 3. Heat an electric griddle to 375°F or put a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. The surface is ready when a few drops of water dance around enthusiastically. Film the griddle or pan with a little of the remaining melted butter or oil (you might need more than 2 tablespoons), and when it's good and hot, spoon out the mashed potato mixture to form medium-size hotcakes. Cook, undisturbed, until the edges begin to crisp, about 5 minutes or so, then turn and cook the other side, another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


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