How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
Is there nothing more comforting and delicious than mashed potatoes? This warm, creamy, dairy-laden starch might be more of an indulgence than everyday fare these days, so I say go all out and do it right.
Mashed potatoes are one of those dishes that looks deceptively simple. Because of this simplicity, many people just throw them together in any old way using any old potato with very mixed, if not disastrous, results. Because mashed potatoes consist of nothing more than potatoes, butter, half-and-half (or cream) and salt, each ingredient is important.
And the mashing method is important, too. After a couple of dozen years making mashed potatoes and a quick consultation of the amazing Cook's Illustrated tome "The Science of Good Cooking" -- to understand some of the science behind the method -- I offer to you my take on the perfect mashed potatoes.
Before we get to the method, though, let's look at each important component of the process.
Choosing the proper potatoes is critical. There are three types of potatoes: very starchy, like Russets; very waxy, like
It is important that your dairy is warmed up before adding it to your mash and, equally important, that you add the butter first. The amount of water in the half-and-half combines with the starch molecules which makes the potatoes gluey. When you add the butter first, it coats the starch and results in silkier potatoes. Then add the half-and-half.
I use unsalted Irish butter (Kerrygold) because I like its taste and texture. Butter will be one of your primary flavors in mashed potatoes, so use the best quality you can. I use unsalted in this recipe so I can control the salt. If you want to use salted, do not add the additional salt in step 2, and simply taste and add salt as needed in the final seasoning.
I use half-and-half for the liquid, as I think it's plenty rich enough. You can use cream if you want for over the top, decadently wonderful results.
Folks have been wielding the potato masher in the kitchen for generations, so if this is your preferred method, I say stick with it. I used a ricer for testing this recipe, and while I feel it results in superior potatoes (fewer lumps, more fluff) I actually prefer a food mill, which, besides also producing fewer lumps and more fluff, separates the skins so no peeling is necessary. I also find it easier to use than the ricer, which is really a two person process: one to peel, another to rice.
Don't ever use a blender or food processor to whip your potatoes! You will end up with glue and then you (and your guests) will be sad.
Removing the skins
I don't peel or slice my potatoes before cooking them. The reason for this is threefold: Unpeeled and unsliced potatoes will absorb less water while being boiled, preserving the starch within the potato. Less water avoids a gluey, watery mash and allows the potatoes to absorb the dairy. Plus the potato peels contribute to the overall potato flavor. And finally, taking the peels off after cooking is quicker and easier.
As mentioned above, if you are using a food mill, the skins are easily removed as a part of the milling process. You may have to clear them out of the mill now and again, but really it's the most efficient method in my book. If you don't have a food mill, you will have to peel the potatoes when they're hot. I found, however, that in the case of the Yukon Golds, the skins were already peeling off just from their dump into the colander. I picked up each potato, held it in a potholder-covered hand, and used a paring knife to coax off the rest of the skins.
Quantities and ratios
This recipe serves 8 to 10, but it can easily be halved or quartered. When working on this mashed potato lesson, I reduced the amount of dairy in my usual recipe by a small amount just to see if it made a difference. It did, slightly, but not enough for me to go back to the higher amounts. I think the combination of slightly less dairy with the Yukon Gold potatoes is stellar, but if you want to go all out, just add another 4 ounces of butter and an additional cup of half-and-half.
The Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Serves 8 to 10.
5 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, well-scrubbed
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt, divided
Additional pat of butter (optional)
Food mill, ricer, or potato masher
Two smaller pans for heating butter and half-and-half
Spatula or wooden spoon
1. Place your well-scrubbed potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to an inch above the potatoes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Test for doneness at 30 minutes. A sharp knife should easily go through the potato. Larger potatoes may take longer, up to 45 or 50 minutes total.
2. Slowly heat the butter in one pan and the half-and-half in another. I usually start this about 20 minutes after I start cooking the potatoes. Be sure to heat them over gentle heat so you don't have to worry about burning. I also add the 2 teaspoons of salt to the half-and-half so it dissolves and can be easily and evenly distributed.
3. When the potatoes are done, drain them in a colander in your sink. At this point, turn off the heat on the butter and half-and-half.
4. If using a potato masher or ricer, peel potatoes as instructed above. If using a food mill, don't peel the potatoes. In either case, the potatoes should be processed back into the pot they were boiled in. This will cut down on extra dishes and help the potatoes to stay warm as there is still some residual heat in the pot.
5. Add the hot butter, gently stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate. When all the butter is absorbed, add the hot half-and-half. It will seem soupy at first, but the potatoes will gradually absorb the liquid and turn into a creamy mixture.
5. Taste your potatoes and add up to another teaspoon of salt if needed. This is also a good time to add pepper, if using. Spoon into your serving dish and top with optional garnishes such as a merry pat of butter or some chopped chives.
-- You can make your potatoes in advance of serving. If it's just an hour or so, leave them in the pot you mashed them in and don't garnish yet. Place the pot on the back of the stove over gently simmering water to keep warm. If they've been refrigerated, the best way to reheat them is to place them in a low oven, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Reheated mashed potatoes are often drier and may need additional (warmed!) dairy to bring them back to their creaminess.
-- Some people get away with using a stand mixer or hand-held beaters. I personally find that this over-mixes them. However, if you're happy with the results, go right ahead. Just be very careful and don't let it rip or you will also end up with the unhappiness of gluey potatoes.
-- Cream cheese, sour cream and yogurt are a popular additions to mashed potatoes. They all add a nice dairy tang and contribute to a creamy texture. Feel free to substitute some or all of the half-and-half with either of these ingredients.
Side Dish Recipe, American Cuisine
- Deborah Madison's 5 Inspired Essentials for Home Cooks
- Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus, Ricotta, Lemon and Thyme
- The Farmer's White Pizza
- Asparagus-Goat Cheese Souffles
- Three Color Fried Rice
- Ploughman's Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Buttermilk Oatcakes with Raspberry Compote
- Granola is Great in Moderation
- Natalie's Lemon Cream Pie with Nilla Wafer Crust
- Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cioppino: A Classic Taste of San Francisco
- Shaved Asparagus Salad
- Triple Threat Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- Cashew Tomato Soup
- Sesame Green Beans
- Chicken with Creamy Braised Leeks
- Spicy Pecan Popcorn Chicken
- Pasta with Asparagus, Ricotta and Prosciutto
- Corzetti with Pesto: Ligurian Pasta Specialty
- Key to Stress-Free Risotto: Know When to Leave it Alone
- Italian Asparagus, Mushroom and Parmesan Frittata
- Oven-Baked Tortilla Chips
- 10 Healthy Eating Tips
- What you need to know about genetically modified foods
- Meatless 'Meats' Can Be Good Nutritional Choices
- 6 Healthy Pizza Recipes
- Creamy Chocolate Gelato
- Beef Daube: A Bright Provencal Stew
- Braised Brisket of Beef with Onions and Garlic
- Roast Rack of Lamb Persillade
- Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Citrus-Coriander Dressing
- Simple Green Salad with Citronette
- Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers
- Pineapple-Honey Glazed Ham
- Chipotle Chili Butternut Squash Soup
- Breakfast Fruit Bread Pudding
- Fruity Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Spring Pizza
- Kale Pesto
- Roasted Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash
- How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Fries: Good to Eat and Good for You
- Home-Cooked Beans: Not As Hard As You Thought
- Ragu Bolognese: A Building Block of Great Italian Dishes
- Spaghetti with Mascarpone, Meyer Lemon, Spinach and Hazelnuts
- Organic Really Matters
- Winter Greens and Gruyere Tart with Cornmeal-Millet Crust
- Challah is for Baking at Home
- French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese
- Oodles of Asian Noodles May Not Be Best Dietary Habit
- When in New Orleans ...
- The Very Important Date
- Classic Tarte Tatin
- Gingerbread with Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting
- Polpettine alla Napoletana (Meatballs)
- Almond and Lemon Crusted Fish with Spinach
- Broiled Salmon with Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette
- Light, Creamy and Dairy-Free Fish Chowder
- Wheat Berry Salad with Blood Oranges, Feta and Red Onion Vinaigrette
- Classic Waldorf Salad
- Massaged Kale Salad
- Sauteed Pork Medallions in Port Wine Sauce with Spinach
- Easy Creamy Leek and Potato Soup
- Yin Yang Soup
- White Chicken Chili
- Broccoflower, Carrot and Leek Ragout with Thyme, Orange and Tapenade
- Three-Colored Vegetable Loaf
- Roasted Kabocha Squash with an Orange-Honey Glaze
- Austrian 'Napkin' Dumplings
- Roast Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
- Slow-Cooker Stout and Chicken Stew
- Honey-Chili Chicken Wings
- Crispy Duck Breast with Cherry Port Sauce
- Pici con Sugo d'Agnello (Pici with Lamb Sauce)
- Baked Pasta with Tomato Red Pepper and Sweet Sausage Sauce
- The Joys of Homemade Pasta
- Quinoa Cakes with Smoked Salmon
- Braised Lentils and Chard Topped with an Egg
How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
Copyright © 2013 Tribune Media Services Inc.
World-renowned chefs with an extraordinary passion for food share their passion on iHaveNet.com. These chefs make great cooking easier than imagined. Each gourmet recipe features expert advice and an easy-to-make recipe. Exactly what you need to transform your home cooking from acceptable to delectable
- ALL RECIPES
- MAIN COURSES
- BEEF / VEAL
- SIDE DISHES
- WOLFGANG PUCK