Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Perfectly Mashed Potatoes

I make so many different varieties of mashed potatoes at my house ~ from mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans to twice baked mashed potatoes with bacon and cheese. Mashed potatoes are a great cool weather side dish; they are hearty and delicious and make a great addition to steaks, BBQ or grilled pork/chicken. I really like eating mashed potatoes as leftovers too. Mashed potatoes are a super easy and affordable side dish, but there are a few simple tips that you should remember if you want to ensure that your mashed potatoes are always creamy and delicious!
1. Choosing the perfect potato
For amazing mashed potatoes, it's really important to choose the right type of potato. A potato with a higher starch content will give you wonderfully tasty mashed potatoes. Try yukon gold, fingerling or Idaho next time you're making mashed potatoes. Red potatoes are delicious, but I've found they are better suited to roasting than mashing. You can also mash sweet potatoes for a delicious fall side dish (these yummy potatoes are loaded with vitamins A and C).

2. Skins or no skins?

I prefer a more rustic mashed potato, so I typically leave the skins on during cooking and mashing. If you like super creamy, uniform mashed potatoes, I suggest peeling them before cooking and using a ricer to mash them.

3. Cooking your potatoes perfectly

Start with cold water. If you add potatoes to boiling water, you will be cooking the outside first. By the time the inside is done, the outer portion of the potato will be a gluey mess. For even cooking, add your potatoes and water, then bring them to a boil. Don't forget to generously salt the water after you've brought the pot to a boil.

4. Make good use of your hot pot

After you've drained your potatoes, return them to the pot you cooked them in. The heat from the pot will eliminate any remaining water on the potatoes, ensuring that your mashed potatoes stay light and fluffy.

5. Make sure your liquids are warm

The best mashed potatoes are made when you add warm (not boiling) milk, cream or stock to your potatoes along with melted butter or olive oil. This keeps the potatoes from cooling down while you are combining the ingredients.

6. Be creative with your additions

Potatoes are one of the best blank canvases you can find. There are a million different things you can add to mashed potatoes to make them extra special. Some of my favorites include roasted garlic, cream cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese, parm or romano cheese, green onions. For sweet potatoes, try a tart diced apple, brown sugar, pecans or mini-marshmallows.

7. Do not overmix!

I can't say this enough ~ overmixing your potatoes will work the glutens and give you a gluey, nasty mess. YUCK. For a more rustic mashed potato, use a fork or a potato masher. Mash them just enough to get all of the ingredients evenly combined. DO NOT use a food processor or hand mixer to mash your potatoes. If you really like super smooth potatoes, invest in a ricer (see tip 2).

Basic Mashed Potatoes:

2 medium potatoes, washed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

6 cups of water

1 tbsp. salt plus a pinch more to taste

1/4 cup heavy cream, warm

1/3 stick butter, melted

black pepper

1 green onion, diced

Bring potatoes and water to a boil. Add salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook until fork tender (about 20 minutes). Drain in a colander. Return the potatoes to the pot and add cream and butter. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Use fork or masher and top with green onions.


Anonymous said...

I remember a friends mother adding cottage cheese to mashed potatoes when I was a kid. I loved it!

Author said...

I'll have to try that sometime! :)

I Sicilian said...

I just happened to find your post on cookeatshare.com after having my Sicilian Mashed potatoes recipe and I was curious about your post. Great info, very Useful.

Author said...

Thanks, I Sicilian! So glad you stopped by my blog. Ironically, I'm Sicilian too ;) Come back soon!