I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday! Every year after Thanksgiving I start thinking about interesting new ways to use leftovers since it’s the one holiday meal that seems to generate a few weeks' worth of extra food. There are many delicious ways to remake turkey (turkey croquettes, tortilla soup, musakhan, and quesadillas, to name a few), but sometimes reinventing Thanksgiving side dishes can be more difficult.
When it comes to using leftover mashed potatoes, there are the usual options, including things like potato chowder, potato croquettes, shepherd’s pie, potato rolls, and any number of egg recipes that involve mashed potatoes (a couple of my favorites are omelets with mashed potatoes, cheddar, and broccoli, and baked eggs with mashed potatoes, cream, and scallion). This year I was inspired by the idea of potato rolls but I wanted to do something a little different, so I thought the idea of savory doughnuts was perfect.
While these savory doughnuts may look like bagels, they are actually very different in both taste and texture. (I should mention that while I love these doughnuts, they could never take the place of bagels in my heart…but on the other hand, leftover mashed potatoes have never looked so good!) Unlike a bagel’s chewy, dense texture, these doughnuts are fluffy and light as air. The flavors of Manchego and thyme blend very well and make the doughnuts incredibly aromatic as they bake.
(Yield: About 17 doughnuts)
2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
¼ c warm water
¾ c milk
½ c mashed potatoes
1 large egg
2 teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 oz Manchego cheese, finely shredded (divided)
3-4 c all-purpose flour
Canola oil (for the bowl)
1 egg beaten with 1 TB water (for eggwash)
Oil a large bowl with canola oil and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast and warm water; let sit 5 minutes. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it just starts to steam and small bubbles form at the edges; turn off heat and cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir together mashed potatoes, egg, sugar, salt, and thyme. Slowly stream milk into mashed potato mixture, stirring to incorporate. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1 ½ c flour, then ¾ of the Manchego (reserve the remaining cheese for topping the doughnuts before baking). Stir in another 1 ½ c flour; once it gets too hard to stir with the spoon, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead it, adding flour as you need from the remaining 1 c (the dough should still be sticky; you shouldn’t need the full 1 c of remaining flour here, save the rest of it to use when you roll out the dough after the first rise). Knead about 5 minutes, or until you press a finger into the dough and the indentation remains.
Transfer dough to the oiled bowl, lightly cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Turn dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle a little flour on top; roll dough out (or push it out with your fingers) until it’s about ½ to ¾-inch thick. Use a 3-inch ring to cut out your doughnuts, then poke the center of each with a straw; there will be a very small hole – use your fingers to work the hole out so it’s ½ to 1-inch in diameter. Re-roll the scraps and repeat this process until all the dough is used (you should get about 17 doughnuts). Transfer the doughnuts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat liner, leaving about 2 inches between each doughnut.
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly drape a piece of plastic wrap over the doughnuts and let them rise at room temperature until they’re puffed (about 30 minutes). Lightly brush eggwash on top of each doughnut (you will have extra eggwash) and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top. Bake doughnuts for 15-20 minutes, or until light golden brown, rotating the trays once.