Mashed Potatoes

My post about braising inspired me to devote a post about mashing potatoes.  It’s not as simple as many of us think, and many of you can confirm after making stiff, gluey messes.  Why does this happen?  I’ll outline a few tips to ensure your next batch of mash is rich, smooth and fluffy.

  1.  Choose the Right Potato.  Large, starchy potatoes are best, like Russets, Idaho or Yukon Gold.  Smaller, younger potatoes have too much sugar and not enough starch to work properly.
  2.  Leave the Potatoes in Large Chunks.  Cut your potatoes too small increases the surface area and you’ll end up with a water logged mess by the time the potatoes are cooked.   If you’re so inclined, the best method is to cook your potatoes whole with the skin on, then peel and mash after they’re cooked.  While we like this method, it’s a bit of a pain, so we’ll save that technique for special occasions.
  3. Simmer, Don’t Boil.  The theory here is to cook your potatoes gently to avoid the pectins in the starch molecules from breaking down too much, which can cause sticky potatoes.
  4. Keep It Hot.  This is the most important advice I can give.  When your potatoes are done, work quickly.  Your butter should be at room temperature and your milk hot and ready.  Mash as soon as your potatoes are drained and dry.
  5. Mash Gently.  Don’t pound away at everything, you can still get ultra smooth potatoes if you’ve cooked them properly.  Mash deliberately but lightly until smooth, but try not to overwork the potatoes.

 

Buttermilk Garlic Mashed Potatoes

 

2 lb potatoes – Russet, Yukon Gold or Idaho

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup heavy cream or milk

1/4 cup butter

1/4 tsp pepper, ground black

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tbsp. roasted garlic, or 2 cloves fresh, minced

 

Cook the potatoes in a large stockpot of simmering water for 40 minutes or until tender.  Remove from heat and drain.  

Meanwhile, heat the buttermilk and cream together in a small sauce pan over low heat.  Transfer the potatoes to a stand mixer and beat at medium speed with the paddle attachment. Alternatively, mash the potatoes in the pot with a masher.  Beat in butter, then cream mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Mix approximately 10 seconds until potatoes have a smooth consistency.  

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