For mashed potatoes and gravy, gather 3 pounds potatoes, 1/2 pound butter, 1 cup half-and-half, 2 yellow onions and 1/4 cup flour. Also gather 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 cups chicken stock, 1 tablespoon each brandy and heavy cream, salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes, stopping before they're completely smooth.
When selecting potatoes, choose a white boiling variety. Boil them quartered in salted water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, making sure they are very tender. In a separate pan, heat half the butter and all the half-and-half. While still hot, drain the potatoes and transfer them to an electric mixer outfitted with its paddle attachment. Add the butter mixture and salt and pepper to taste, and then blend potatoes until they achieve the required consistency.
For the gravy, add the remaining butter and the chopped onions, simmering them until the onions caramelize. In yet another pan, heat through the chicken stock. Once the onions are ready, add the flour along with salt and pepper to taste, then whisk vigorously to avoid clumping. Next, add the heated stock and the tablespoon of brandy. Stir the contents constantly as the flour helps thicken the gravy. If desired, add the tablespoon of heavy cream for an extra satiny finish.
Serve either atop the fresh mashed potatoes or on the side, depending on taste and presentation.