Bobby Flay Has A Secret Ingredient For His Mashed Potatoes

When it comes to mashed potatoes, it's customary to mix in some sort of dairy to give them a smooth consistency. The majority of mashed potato recipes require butter, though some also call for heavy cream, and traditionally, milk is also used. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the other hand, adds crème fraîche. In the "Favorite Mashed Potatoes" virtual class he hosted on the Food Network Kitchen app (via FN Dish), Flay explained that although he does incorporate butter and milk in his recipe, he finds that crème fraîche is the ingredient that contributes the most creaminess and flavor.

According to the recipe Flay shared on the Food Network you'll need half a cup of crème fraîche per three pounds of Yukon gold or russet potatoes. The crème fraîche isn't added until the very end of the cooking process once the potatoes are cooked and mashed, and right after the butter and milk are fully mixed in. At that point you can stir in the half cup of crème fraîche, mascarpone, or pesto to taste and season with salt and pepper.

Can you substitute crème fraîche for sour cream in mashed potatoes?

Though crème fraîche is often seen as just a fancier sour cream, the two differ in one important way. As Eater explains, crème fraîche is unpasteurized and therefore contains fermenting agents and live cultures, much like yogurt. Crème fraîche is also richer because it has 10% more fat, and it doesn't curdle when exposed to high heat like sour cream.

Sour cream and crème fraîche might taste pretty similar up front, but on a chemical level, they interact with potatoes differently. According to Epicurious (via YouTube), fermenting agents, which are present in crème fraîche but not sour cream, contribute a tangy flavor to mashed potatoes. The lactic acid and bacterial cultures lower the pH, resulting in mashed potatoes that are thicker and creamier.

If you want your mashed potatoes to be as close in taste and consistency to the kind Bobby Flay makes, it's best to stick with crème fraîche. Sour cream may be a cheaper substitute, but it won't do your mashed potatoes justice.