That's because when Tucci isn't cranking out movies like "The Hunger Games" and "Julie & Julia," he's often in the kitchen with his wife, Felicity Blunt. They draw on their respective cultures — his Italian, hers British — to come up with some pretty interesting creations, many of them collected in the pair's new cookbook, "The Tucci Table" (Gallery Books, 2014).
To wit, these mashed potatoes, which Tucci says were mostly his wife's creation. The prep itself is pretty standard; it's the add-ins where things get good. Tucci and Blunt use olive oil instead of cream or milk. The result is richly savory and just a bit peppery. A bit of butter — olive oil and butter are classic Italian combination — ties it all together.
But then it gets really interesting. To finish the potatoes, they beat in an egg yolk. Yes, raw. This takes the creamy richness of the mashed potatoes to a whole new level, and you'll wonder why you never did this before.
The recipe below is (very) loosely adapted from Tucci and Blunt's version. For the Thanksgiving table, I wanted a bit of fried sage in my mashed potatoes. I also upped the volume to account for the usual holiday crowd, and figured a little (OK, a lot) extra butter wasn't such a bad thing. If raw eggs give you the willies, look for pasteurized whole eggs at the grocer.
ULTRA-RICH MASHED POTATOES
Start to finish: 35 minutes
5-pound bag Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
10 large fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
2 egg yolks
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2-inch chunks. Place the cut potatoes in a large pot and add enough cool water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender at the centre when pierced with a knife.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the sage leaves and fry until crisp and just barely turning brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
When the potatoes are done, drain them, then return them to the pot. Set the pot over medium heat and heat the potatoes for 1 minute, shaking the pan frequently, to help dry the potatoes. Remove the pot from the heat, then use a masher to mash the potatoes, drizzling in the olive oil as you work.
When the potatoes are mashed, pour in the butter and fried sage, stirring them in. The sage will crumble and mix into the potatoes. Add the egg yolks and quickly stir them into the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Nutrition information per serving: 450 calories; 270 calories from fat (60 per cent of total calories); 30 g fat (14 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 4 g protein; 210 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at email@example.com