Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Not just Plain Jane Mashed Potatoes

I love making fancy, complicated recipes...sometimes.  Sometimes I just love making the old favorites a little better.  There are some comfort foods that everyone loves and I think mashed potatoes are at the top of the list.  Have you ever met anyone who doesn't like mashed potatoes?For Sunday dinner I made these and Erin pronounced them "the best ever".  They consisted of Yukon Gold potatoes, a bit of leftover sour cream, some heavy cream, a little melted butter, a few cloves of smashed garlic, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  When I explained how I made them Erin said, "I never knew that".  Apparently I haven't passed on my "SECRET" to my daughters.   Here are a few tips that will have your guests pronouncing your mashed potatoes "THE BEST ONES EVER".

  • Start with the right potato.  Russets are best for frying/baking because they have a high starch content and very little water.  They fluff up when fried or baked but when you cook them in water they break up and disintegrate.  Yukon Golds are a medium starch potato and have medium water content...perfect for mashed potatoes.  I like to scrub my potatoes well and leave the skins on (another reason to use Yukons; their thin, tender skins) but you can peel them if you want them more refined.  Red or white potatoes are also a good choice for mashing.
  • Cut the potatoes into even cubes, put them into a large pot and cover with cold water, seasoned with a little salt.  It's important to season them as they cook.  Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer and cook through.  If you boil the water before adding the potatoes, the outside will cook faster than the inside and they will be mushy on the outside.  You'll have potato soup instead of evenly cooked potatoes.
  • Pour the cooked cubes into a colander and let them drain and "dry" a bit before mashing.    *(Save the water for a lower calorie mash or to use in sourdough starter or bread).
  • Mash them with a ricer or a hand masher, never with a mechanical mixer.  A mixer will develop the starch threads and make the mash gummy.
  • Always melt the butter and lightly stir it in first, before adding the liquid (milk/cream/sour cream/buttermilk).  The butterfat will coat the starch molecules so that the liquid will stay outside the  cell walls and your potatoes will be fluffy not gummy.
  • Season, season, season.   The key to great mashed potatoes is flavor but you need to add it.  Potatoes are the perfect vehicle for other additions.  Add a little salt, pepper, garlic, sour cream/cream/milk/buttermilk, or cheese.  I add some garlic slices along with the salt to the cooking water and mash them right up with the potato cubes. Garlic is very mild when cooked; not at all bitter. You can add some roasted garlic when mashing if you prefer.  Throw in a hand-full of Parmesan (or your favorite cheese), a bit of crispy bacon and sprinkle some chopped chives on top.  See how many different combinations you can come up with.  Just don't add "everything but the kitchen sink" all at once.
  • You can make mashed potatoes ahead of time and keep them warm for several hours before service, freeing you to do those other last minute dishes.  Just put them into a crock pot on low or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water.  Make sure to press some plastic wrap right against the mash to keep if from forming a "skin".  Stir and fluff at serving time.
And there you have it;  the secret to great mashed potatoes. 

Linked to Friday Potluck.


  1. Some great tips! I'll have to switch to Yukon golds.

  2. I just added Yukon gold potatoes to my grocery list. Along with everyone else, I already love mashed potatoes, but I'm going to print out your tips and go for it:) Thanks!

  3. Love Yukon Golds! I've been adding some mashed cauliflower to my smashed potatoes, lately. I had started doing it to lighten them up a bit during wrestling season, but the kids liked them so much that way, I've continued even though we're into lacrosse season. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a delicious way to make mashed potatoes! Have a great weekend!! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  5. I love mashed potatoes - and didn't know that about the mechanical mixers! Good to know. I recently discovered celeriac, and that's become a favorite ingredient for mashed potatoes too - just boil it with the taters!

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Potluck!

  6. I hardly ever make mashed potatoes, but I love them. What a great post on your mouth watering potatoes and such great tips. Joni

  7. If Erin said that these are the best ever, than that's the best endorsement for me! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!