There is only a small group of people who know what Colonel taters are. Well, at least until you all read this, and then you’ll know, and will be sort of like part of my family.
You see, there’s a now-deceased uncle in our family whose name was Bill Ables. Colonel Bill Ables, to be exact, who served in the U.S. Air Force for many years. Colonel was a funny, smart, opinionated man with a booming voice who loved good food.
As happens too frequently to our senior citizens, Alzheimer’s struck Colonel Bill. We all watched him as it slowly altered his mind. You know what, though? He was always himself, even on the most difficult days. He was always in there with a sparkle in his eye or a song on his lips or a funny story.
He was a good cook in his day, and he is the one, I am sure you’ve figured out by now, that the name Colonel potatoes was actually coined because of. He loved to make these flavorful, peppery creamed potatoes. They were a favorite of his, so much so that the whole family began requesting “Colonel taters.”
To this day, though he’s been gone for seven years now, we still call them by that name. We always will. And maybe some of you will, too, and will remember this strong man who served our country but who wasn’t strong enough, as none of us are, to beat Alzheimer’s disease.
We had Colonel taters tonight, alongside a pork tenderloin and whole green beans. Such a delicious meal! He would have loved it, too.
Here’s the basic recipe for my take on these yummy potatoes. (if you’re on a diet, please look the other way.)
Colonel Potatoes, aka creamed potatoes
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, washed, peeled, and chopped into 1″ pieces
1 cup whole or 2% milk
1/4 cup plain flour
3 TBS butter
salt and pepper, to taste
Cover diced potatoes with water in a medium-large pot. (mine is 3 quarts)
Bring to a boil, then cook for about 15 minutes. (I begin fork testing after about 12 minutes. I don’t like underdone potatoes, but if you cook them too long, they will turn to mush.)
Drain off some of the water, leaving about 1 to 1 1/2 cups water. (about 2/3 of the potatoes should be above the water after draining.)
Next, add the cup of cold milk to a bowl or large (two cups or more) measuring cup. Add the flour, then whisk the flour into the milk until it is completely dissolved and smooth.
Pour the cold milk mixture into the hot potatoes, and simmer over low-medium heat, stirring frequently as the broth thickens. Do not allow the bottom to scorch.
Add three TBS butter, and salt and pepper to taste. We love a lot of pepper in these potatoes. It is a perfect complement to them.
Add-ins: saute some diced onions or thinly-sliced scallions in some butter or olive oil, and then add to finished potatoes. You could do the same with celery. A couple of slices of cooked bacon could be chopped and added in, as well.
Tip: when making any kind of cream sauce or gravy, always add cold liquid to the hot. If I had added hot milk to the hot potato broth, I’d have big lumps of flour in the sauce. Nobody wants that.
I hope you like this little tribute to Colonel Bill, and I hope you enjoy this simple recipe for warm, delicious potatoes that are perfect for dinner on a chilly winter evening!
(To purchase the Alzheimer’s Awareness Christmas card pictured above, click here.)
You might also like: Mama’s green beans and new potatoes
Copyright 2012 Stephanie Hill Frazier. All rights reserved.