Great Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4 to 6
For fluffy, light mashed potatoes, use floury potatoes; for crushed potatoes, in which you wish to retain firmer chunks, use waxy potatoes.
For the fluffiest potatoes, use a ricer; for a bit more of a sturdy mash, wield that potato masher; for crushed potatoes, use a fork and only mash and crush here and there. All agree that potatoes must never be whipped in a food processor or you risk a gluey mess, as the whirling blade breaks down the walls of the cells, setting free the sticky starch. The amount of milk or cream, and butter, is purely according to your tastes and desire; add and taste as you go along.
- 3 pounds potatoes, either floury or waxy (see headnote)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup hot milk or cream,
or as desired for your preferred consistency
- 3 to 5 tablespoons butter
1. Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks; place in a saucepan with cold water to cover, shake in a little salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the potatoes are just tender. (Some cooks prefer boiling the whole potato, unpeeled, for an earthier flavor, then peeling them-or notonce tender.)
2. Pour the water off and return the potatoes to the heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan to evaporate the water and keep the potatoes light and dry. Cover and set aside, keeping warm.
3. Heat the milk in a saucepan until bubbles form around the edge.
4. Mash the drained potatoes using your preferred tool-ricer, masher, or fork-then with a wooden spoon, beat in the hot milk and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Hold the Potatoes, Chef
To hold potatoes, modern chefs have developed this trick: Rice the potatoes with the butter rather than mashing them together. Put them through the ricer a second or even a third time, for maximum fluffiness. Set the pan aside, covered, for up to 2 hours. A few minutes before you are ready to eat, heat the milk in a saucepan and add the buttered mash, in the amount you wish, until you get the right fluffy, creamy consistency.
Add a bunch of thinly sliced green onions to the milk and then heat through. Stir into your potatoes for a mash that is fragrant and oniony, flecked with green, and ecstasy to eat. In each bowl place a big pat of butter to melt in; use more butter than you think you'd like, more than you know Is good for you. Close your eyes and smile your inner potato-eating smile.
Neeps and Tatties
This Scottish dish is also known as clapshot—it's a chunky mash of rutabaga (hence the name neeps, a Scottish nickname for rutabagas, which are known as turnips in Scotland and swedes in England) and potatoes (affectionately nicknamed tatties in Scotland). Some say that Neeps and Tatties originated in the Orkney Islands; all agree that it makes the finest, most classic accompaniment to a Burns Night haggis. To prepare Neeps and Tatties: In place of half the potatoes, use an equal amount of peeled, diced rutabaga. Cook and mash as directed, and mix in hot milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste, and chopped chives, if desired.
Green Thai Curry Mash
Mash potatoes as directed, but omit the milk. Add about 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt instead, along with green Thai curry paste (from a jar) to taste—I'd suggest about 2 to 3 teaspoons, or more, depending on how hot it is-and a grating of block coconut cream (or several tablespoons unsweetened liquid coconut cream). Squirt in the juice of a half or whole lime, and serve.
Wasabi-Pea and Potato Mash
With a mortar and pestle, crush a big handful of hot wasabi peas until they form a rough meal. Proceed with the mashed potatoes as directed, mixing in the milk, but omitting the butter. Add the crushed wasabi peas and serve with a drizzle of sesame oil.
Decrease the amount of potatoes to 2 pounds and add a big bunch of kale, cut into strips or coarsely chopped, to the pot of potatoes and cook together. Mash as for champ, with the green onion-infused milk.
Make it rich with cream and either a crumble of fish bouillon cube or a few spoonfuls of fish/seafood broth and top it with a nugget of soft lobster butter (diced cooked lobster, with an equal amount of soft butter, and a sprinkling of chopped chives and fresh tarragon to taste). Serve with anything seafoody, such as crisp roasted fish, or with rare grilled steak.
Buy the Book
Visit All About Potatoes featuring dozens of potato recipes
65 Downright Delicious Recipes
by Betty Marlena Spieler
Photographs by Sheri Giblin
Chronicle Books 2007
$18.95; Paperback; 180 pp; 24 color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
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This page created December 2007