For instance, some people use the term "creamed potatoes" interchangeably with "mashed potatoes." Not so. There are certain common elements -- i.e. both contain potatoes. Mashed potatoes are ... well....they're mashed, either with a fork or a masher or a ricer or a food mill, along with milk and butter to achieve a creamy consistency. While that may make them creamy potatoes, it doesn't make them creamed potatoes.
Some people call them "potatoes in white sauce" or "potatoes in cream sauce" or even "potatoes in buttery cream sauce." All good descriptions, if a little verbose. To me, they are and always have been just "creamed potatoes."
I've recently been told that they are a common Southern side dish. Well, I grew up in the Midwest where my Vermont-born mother fixed them all the time. And my Deep Southern wife -- whose grandmothers on both sides were professional cooks -- had never heard of them. Nor had any other members of her family had them or heard of them.
Well, they all have now and they love them. So, regardless of where they came from or what you call them, here's how to make them.
4 to 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
paprika, for garnish (optional)
parsley, for garnish (optional)
Place the cut potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook covered for about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Set aside.
In another sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. blend until smooth. Slowly add in the milk. Keep stirring, don't want it to stick here. Bring to a low boil, stirring all the time. Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until thickened.
Mix the cream gravy and the potatoes, blend carefully. Pour into a warmed serving dish and garnish with paprika and parsley, if desired.
Note: Alternately, the dish can be finished in the oven by pouring the potatoes and cream gravy into a casserole dish and baking for about 20 minutes at 325°.
Yields 4 to 6 servings.