Mashed Potatoes

Have you ever had mashed potatoes so good you wanted to cry? Grab some tissues; with these tips and the following recipe, you’re about to become famous for them.

Tips for the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Get real.

Like many things in the culinary world, one of the secrets to fantastic spuds is simple: real butter. Lots of butter. The better the quality, the less you need, so splurge on the good stuff. I use a creamy, golden, Irish-style butter, and I don’t regret it (you won’t either).

Use Yukon Gold potatoes.

Yukon Gold potatoes are an absolute must. With their thin, smooth skin and creamy yellow flesh, they have exactly the right starch content to make fluffy-yet-satisfyingly-substantial mashed potatoes. You’ll work twice as hard coming up with something as naturally buttery and creamy if you use russet or reds, and they won’t be nearly as good.

Cut them down to size.

Cutting the potatoes into the right size is another, often overlooked, key. If you dice them too small, the potatoes become waterlogged during cooking, leaving you with watery, runny potatoes. If you cut them too big, they take forever to cook. I have found that a  2-inch chop works best. You don’t need to break out a ruler for this, just get them in the ballpark (about the length of your thumb) and try to make them somewhat uniform for even cooking.

Whether or not you peel them is a matter of choice (I happen to love the skins and leaving them on takes nothing away from the silky texture of this recipe).

Get equipped.

If you love an extra creamy mashed potato–and you have extra time–use a ricer. (You’ll need to peel your potatoes before cooking, so make time for that, too.) I still use my grandmother’s 1960’s avocado green hand mixer, and it works just fine. Just don’t over beat them or they will turn into paste.

The Perfect Mashed Potato Recipe

5 lb. bag Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled, if desired)

2 tbsp. kosher or sea salt, divided

2 tbsp. white pepper

3 sticks of butter

1 quart of cream

Chives, sliced thinly (or cut with scissors)

  1. Slice potatoes into chunks, roughly 2-inch cubes. Place in a large pot and add cool water to cover by about one inch. Add 1 tbsp. salt to water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until a fork easily pierces all the way through a potato.
  2. PRO TIP: While waiting for potatoes to cook, melt butter and add cream. Bring to a very gentle boil (be very careful to not let the mixture foam).  Stir in white pepper and remaining salt. Heating the seasoning separately will make it easier to distribute the flavor and keep the dish hotter, longer.
  3. Drain potatoes into a colander. Rinse and dry your pot before putting the potatoes back in. Add butter mixture and stir to coat.
  4. Mash by your favorite method. Ricer or hand mixer works best. Don’t overdo it–you’ve worked too hard for this moment.
  5. Top with cut chives.
  6. Keep warm in oven or slow cooker until service.
  7. Save room for seconds.

Far too often mashed potatoes end up being a ho-hum filler food on a holiday spread. The bland, lifeless, gluey globs are the Debbie Downer of the dinner plate, waiting for an overly-salted gravy to give them purpose. When done right, however, mashed potatoes are a thing of beauty all to themselves, carrying enough flavor and texture to stand on their own in whipped, creamy peaks.

Have fun making memories (and history)!

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