Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Fennel and Garlic

Dress up your potatoes this year with an extra layer of caramelized flavor.

By Melissa Perello
Nov 10, 2022
melissa perello mashed potatoes
90 Minutes
8 - 10 Servings

It’s hard to improve upon a classic, but with her rendition of mashed potatoes, Chef Melissa Perello of Frances and Octavia in San Francisco, enriches the side with earthy flavors. Chef Perello loves the rich sweetness brought on by roasting vegetables, so she adds in garlic and fennel. Instead of roasting them however, she slow-cooks the aromatics in our Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It also serves as a large enough pot to mash potatoes in before crisping up in the oven.

Like twice-baked potatoes, there's no need to smooth the potatoes out as the more rustic the top, the better the golden brown crust will be. Like Chef Perello, we agree Yukon Golds are the superior potato for mashing, with their buttery flavor adding to the delicious richness of the dish which is amped up by heavy cream, sour cream, and plenty of butter.

While this recipe calls for a ricer, you can also use a potato masher depending on your preferred consistency, but regardless, we suggest mashing in the Stainless Stock Pot and then transferring to the Dutch Oven with the fennel mixture.

Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Fennel and Garlic

Dress up your potatoes this year with an extra layer of caramelized flavor.

Melissa Perello

90 Minutes
8 - 10 Servings
  • 3 ½ pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 13), peeled, kept whole
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds fennel (about 2 large bulbs), stalks and fronds removed
  • 2 ½ ounces garlic cloves (about 1 whole head), peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream, plus more, if necessary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche (or buttermilk)
  • Fennel pollen or toasted ground fennel seed (optional), for serving

    Place whole peeled potatoes in a Stock Pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, season with 1 Tbsp. salt, and lower to a simmer. Cook until tender and mashable, about 40-60 minutes.


    While potatoes are cooking, use a Chef Knife to slice fennel in half lengthwise and remove core. Slice crosswise into ¼”-thick slices. Smash the garlic cloves with the back of the Knife and coarsely chop.


    Place Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven over medium heat and pour in olive oil. When  hot, add garlic and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently until fennel begins to brown and soften, adding a tablespoon of water if needed to prevent burning. Once fennel is golden and fork tender, add cream, remaining 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover with lid.


    Once potatoes are cooked, remove the Bay leaf from the cream mixture. Drain the potatoes, then use a potato ricer or food mill, add them to the Dutch Oven with the cream mixture. Add butter and sour cream, then stir vigorously to break up the fennel and combine ingredients.


    Preheat oven to 500F. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Clean the sides of the Dutch Oven with a rubber spatula, spread the potato mixture evenly across, then use the spatula to make waves. This will create texture when browning. Alternatively, transfer mixture to a separate 8x8 Baking Dish and follow the same instructions.


    Bake the mixture until golden brown on top, about 10 minutes. Finish the potatoes with an additional drizzle of hot cream and dusting of fennel pollen or toasted ground fennel seed, if desired.