|For a fluffy, light, flavorful version of this classic, use high-starch potatoes and the right tool…and don’t overcook|
For good measure: Be careful not to overcook potatoes you plan to mash, because the starch cells will break down and create a sticky mash. Cook them just until a thin-bladed knife meets a bit of resistance. It is also important to drain the potatoes well after cooking to prevent gumminess.
MASTER RECIPE FOR MASHED POTATOES
Makes about 4 cups (6-8 servings)
If you’re serving mashed potatoes with sauce or gravy, this is the recipe you want. It delivers spectacularly smooth, fluffy potatoes, not too rich and not too assertively flavored. Consider one of the variations when the mashed potatoes will stand alone.
2 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, eyes and blemishes removed; cut into 2 inch chunks
3/4 teaspoon salt, total
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup whole milk or half-and-half, warm
Ground black pepper to taste
1. Put potatoes in a large saucepan; add cold water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil and continue to cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes well and return pain to low heat. Rice or strain potatoes into pan if using these methods. With a whisk or a wooden spoon blend in butter, then warm milk. Or, return potatoes to saucepan; mash over low heat with a potato masher, adding butter as you mash. Stir in warm milk. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper, or to taste. Serve immediately.
Variations: You can cook any number of other vegetables with potatoes. Try celery root, carrots, turnips, or parsnips. Follow Master Recipe, substituting 1 pound of your chosen vegetable for 1 pound of potatoes; cut other vegetable into pieces that will cook in the same amount of time as potatoes (cut softer vegetables into larger pieces than potatoes and cut harder vegetables into smaller ones).
MASHED POTATOES AND APPLES WITH BACON BROWNED ONIONS
Makes about 4 cups (6-8 servings)
This is a traditional German dish my grandmother taught me called Himmel and Erde, or Heaven and Earth.
1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled, eyes and blemishes removed; cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound tart apples such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and quartered
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter
1 small onion, sliced very thin
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1. Put potatoes and apples in a large saucepan; add cold water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and continue to cook over medium heat until both are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon butter in a small skillet; sauté onions over medium-high heat until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Drain potatoes and apples well and return to pan to low heat. Rice or strain them into pan if using these methods. Then with a whisk or a wooden spoon, blend in remaining butter and the vinegar. Or, return potatoes and apples to saucepan; mash potatoes and apples over low heat with a potato masher, adding remaining butter then vinegar as you mash. Season to taste with additional salt and a pinch of sugar. Transfer to serving dish; top with onions and bacon and serve immediately.
MASHED POTATOES WITH POACHED GARLIC AND OLIVE OIL
Follow Master Recipe, adding 2 large peeled garlic cloves and 2 bay leaves along with water in step 1. Remove bay leaves as potatoes are drained, and mash garlic with potatoes. Decrease butter to tablespoons and stir in 1/4 cup virgin olive oil with butter. Stir in warm milk as in Master Recipe.
MASHED POTATOES WITH PARMESAN CHEESE AND LEMON
Follow Master Recipe, stirring in 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese to finished potatoes.
Original article and recipes by Eric Wolff
Italian Potato Masher
Sharp Vegetable Peeler
Variations, Yes; Substitutions, No