The Devil’s Mashed Potatoes

The moth-eaten parchment fragment fell from the false lid of the blackened old cedar chest, its letters atrophied, its ink faded. Curious, I reached for it, and thought for a moment that I saw black sparks fly from the fragment as my fingers touched it.

It took me years to translate it from Ugaritic. I finished the task at midnight on a moonless night. As I wrote the last word, the door suddenly slammed shut, and an icy wind blew across my neck, and I thought I heard maniacal laughter echoing through the halls. I pulled my coat tighter, and began to read.

10 lbs potatoes
1 lb carrots
4 stalks of celery
4 parsnips, if desired
4 medium onions
2-4 cloves garlic (or 2-4 tsp chopped garlic in oil)
24 oz crema mexicana

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Peel the carrots and halve them; ditto parsnips. Chop the celery into small pieces. (You’ll want to more or less obliterate the celery, otherwise it doesn’t mash well.) In a big pot, boil the potatoes, carrots, celery, and parsnips together until the potatoes are soft and starting to come apart if mixed. Drain them carefully, using a wooden spoon and the pan, not a colander (they won’t survive a colander). This will leave some water in the pot, which is fine.

At the same time, in a separate frying pan, melt butter. Add the garlic, plus the onions, chopped finely. Brown on medium heat till browned; then lower heat and continue to brown another 5-10 minutes. You want the onions to be almost a paste. (But you don’t want to boil them, because you’ll lose flavor that way.) Once the onions are almost dissolved, add a quarter cup of water or wine to the pan. This will blend with the onion/garlic mix and the toasted butter to make a very tasty brown sauce. Add another quarter cup. Let it simmer for a minute.

Mash the potatoes slightly with a masher or spoon. Add cream to the potatoes, and stir. Add onion mix to the potatoes, and stir in.

Add additional spices and salt to taste. (I usually end up adding a few teaspoons of garlic salt and of Landry’s garlic/herbs mix.)


The fragment, amazingly enough, was a mashed potato recipe! And immediately after the recipe, the following curious text:

These are the Devil’s Mashed Potatoes. To the righteous, they will taste of silt and ashes. But to the wicked, they will be sweeter than Heaven’s own nectar.

Scratching my chin, I headed towards the kitchen.

Personally, I don’t put much stock in silly superstitions. I’ve tried the recipe myself, and they’re delicious. I even brought them to the ward party, where they were quite the hit.

You should try them some time. Let me know if you like them.


  1. Steve Evans says:

    the Crema Mexicana is interesting. Master Mashed. I could do without the parsnips.

  2. Kaimi, I believe you. I can’t wait to try them.

  3. I even brought them to the ward party, where they were quite the hit.

    Says it all.

  4. What is Crema Mexicana and is there a good substitute if I can’t find it around?

  5. Mark Brown says:


    Here is a recipe for Crema Mexicana.

    Kaimi, these potatoes would go well with Hellfire ribs. However, we hairshirt Mormons enjoy our parsnips boiled until mushy, then served cold, without salt or pepper.

  6. Jjohnsen,

    You’ve probably had it, if you’ve eaten at a Mexican place in the southwest. You know how the sour cream you get on your enchilada at a Mexican place in L.A. doesn’t taste or feel like the Land-o-Lakes from the supermarket?

    Crema is basically sour cream without the salt, or the draining, or very much of the culture. So it looks and tastes like cream, instead of jell-o.

    It’s a lot smoother and more liquid than Land-o-Lakes, and it has an extremely short shelf life. But it doesn’t last in the fridge, anyway.

    Here’s a link to one popular brand in the southwest :

    You can often find it at either Mexican supermarkets, or at places like Trader Joe’s.

    If that’s not around, creme fraiche is the next best option. Creme fraiche is also not strongly cultured, so it tastes like cream. But it’s drained, so it’s a lot thicker. If you mix about 2-to-1 Creme fraiche and whole milk, you’ll come up with something similar in consistency.

  7. The key is that crema tastes really, really creamy. (Like the cream you get on the side of your enchilada at a good Mexican restaurant.) It keeps all the cream flavor because it’s barely cultured. So it makes a very creamy pot of mashed potatoes. With that much creaminess, you don’t need much more.

  8. Mmmmm– those sound amazing. One of the best things that I’ve added to my arsenal while living in Texas is crema mexicana. It’s good on everything, but especially good on migas.

  9. What if you substitute mascarpone, Kaimi?

  10. Looks promising! Though I do wish you’d included the original Ugaritic. (And don’t give me any of that, “I lost the first 116 pages and wicked men have conspired to change the original recipe.”)

    My experience with cake has led me to conclude that foods with the label “devil” are likely to be worth a try (whereas foods with the term “angel” might be better off avoided).

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    The paper today had an entire section on Thanksgiving cooking. I got really hungry on the train ride home. And this post isn’t helping. I’m ready for a feast.

  12. cahkaylahlee says:

    Slightly off topic, but does anyone know what happened to Imo? It was a sour cream substitute that had a crazy long shelf life, and it disappeared from grocery stores a few years ago.

    This recipe sounds way delicious by the way. And I love parsnips!

  13. cahkaylahlee, Dean Foods still makes IMO, but it’s hard to find. Probably something you need to beg your local grocer to stock.

    I love parsnips, too. In a recipe like this, especially with all those carrots, I’d be surprised if anybody could pick out any parsnippy flavor.

  14. Wow. I am totally going to make this. I’ll be in california in 2 weeks when I can actually get things like parsnips and crema mexicana. mmmmmmmm.

  15. Would you use white or red wine? I got both(for cooking purposes only, of course)!

  16. Steve Evans says:


  17. Ugh, why would you want to adulterate perfectly good potatoes with the nastiness of carrots? Otherwise, it sounds delish.

  18. I will have to make these devil mashed potatoes. They sound quite tasty and I love all things potatoes.

    I always add cream cheese (instead of sour cream) to my mashed potatoes. I know it may sound gross, but it makes them taste delicious.

  19. My husband is in charge of mashed potatoes in my house and there is no way he is adding carrots or parsnips.

  20. How did they get potatoes in ancient Ugarit?

  21. You were a Youth Guide?!? So was I.

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