Mashed Potatoes -- One Very Good Way

Discussion in 'Recipes' started by boar_d_laze, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    (WONDERFULLY LIGHT and FLUFFY)
    MASHED POTATOES


     Not to let the cat out of the bag or anything, but this is more by way of a very brief, technical primer than a recipe. 

    Know your friends: 


        •    Butter, butter and more butter.

        •    Dairy – Whole milk, 1/2 and 1/2, and cream, whether singly or in combination.  Also, you may replace some of the preceding with sour cream.  Did you see low fat milk mentioned?  Me neither.

        •    You need one of three pieces to make good mashed potatoes.  Each of them makes for a different texture.  Anyway: Ricer; Food Mill; or, Masher.   Ricers make the smoothest, lightest, most elegant mashed potatoes.  Masher leave some lumps, and the finished product is more substantial and “home style.”  Food mills kind of split the difference, tending towards ricers for smoothness, and mashers in weight.

    Know your enemies: 

        •    Keep your food processor, your blender, your electric beater and your stand mixer away from dem spuds. Overworked mashed potatoes are starchy-gummy.  They are to be eschewed (gesundheit!). 
       
        •    Dry.  Dry is bad.  Use plenty of dairy. 

    MASHED POTATOES

    (The  Recipe)

        •     2 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
        •    1/2 cup milk, or 1/2 cup half and half.  Alternatively, mix them; or, use heavy cream; or, replace a couple of tbs with milk or cream with sour cream or yogurt
        •    1/2 stick (4 tbs, 1/4 cup) butter
        •    salt
        •    freshly ground white or black pepper
        •    (Optional) A little freshly grated nutmeg
        •    (Optional) Minced chives; scallion tops; or garlic scape, aka “garlic chives,” aka “Chinese chives”
        •    (Optional) A little truffle oil or salt

    Technique:


    Peel the potatoes.  Cut small potatoes into four roughly equal pieces, medium potatoes into six pieces, and large potatoes into eight pieces. 

    Note 1: The purpose of cutting the spuds, rather than cooking whole is to cook everything evenly.

    Cover the potatoes with cold water.  Let them soak for a minute or two, the water will become cloudy.  Drain the water and replace it with fresh.  If the water clouds again after another minute, repeat one more time.

    Drain the potatoes, and put them in a pot large enough to hold about twice the amount.  Add enough fresh water to cover by an inch.  Salt the water so that it’s roughly the same salinity as sea-water.

    Note 2: You can use whatever salt you like.  However, be aware that for boiling and steaming salt is salt.  Anything other than ordinary table salt is needless expense. 

    Note 3: As a general rule, a level of saltiness similar to sea-water is correct for boiling and/or steaming any vegetable; and also correct for boiling pasta.     

    Put the potatoes over a medium-high flame and bring them to a boil.  Reduce the heat to either a low boil or hot simmer and cover.  Cook the potatoes until they’re easily pierced and/or broken with a fork – about 10 minutes. 

    Remove the pan from the stove.  Drain the potatoes. 

    If ricing, rice.  If using a food mill, mill.  If mashing, don’t mash. 

    Return the pot to the stove over a low fire.  If the potatoes remain unprocessed allow them to steam for a minute or two to get the excess water off the spuds and out of the pan. 

    Add the milk and/or cream (hold off on the sourcream, if using), and allow the milk to heat.  For this purpose, you want potatoes that are not soupy but are just stiff enough to hold their shape, and this recipe should get you right to that point or at least very close.  Remember, you can always add more milk later, if you feel the potatoes are too stiff.   

    Add the butter, in pieces no larger than a tbs and allow to soften. 

    Reduce the heat to very low.  Add the yogurt or sour cream if using.

    If the potatoes weren’t riced or milled, mash them now.  Mash a few times, then use your masher to stir to incorporate.  Work the masher around the pan, alternately mashing and stirring.  You want an ultimate texture that floats between lumpy and grainy.  You definitely do not want to mash the potatoes to smoothness, because  they will be overworked and pasty.  

    If the potatoes were riced or milled, you need only mix them well enough to fully incorporate the dairy and butter.

    Once the potatoes are mashed and/or the butter and milk are completely mixed in, add a few turns from the pepper mill, and a little salt and mix them in with a fork.  Taste and adjust for salt and consistency.  Mashed potatoes can take a lot of salt.  If the potatoes are stiff and/or heavy, add a little more milk or cream.

    Note 4:  If using truffle salt, be careful not to overuse it.  Plan on using regular salt as well.

    If using, add the chopped chives or scallion top, any herbs, and the truffle oil. 

    Before plating, do a final and “taste and adjust.”

    Note 5: The whole “taste and adjust” thing is one of the biggest separating good cooks from... well... 

    The above recipe is my original creation.  If you wish to share it you have my permission to do so as long as you credit it to me, Boar D. Laze.  I'd consider it a kindness if you would also mention my website, www.cookfoodgood.com where this recipe is also posted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2010
  2. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Hi BDL, love the technique.  You forgot to mention how much butter to use in your ingredient list.

    I've also found good results steaming the potatoes instead of boiling.  I add water about halfway up the potatoes and steam covered until all water is absorbed.  Salting becomes a little trickier in this instance - less is better and season further when adding the cream.  For even further flavor I steam the potatoes in vegetable or chicken broth.

    I recently heard a method of cooking the potatoes in milk rather than water.  I'm curious but doubtful of this method, any experience with it?
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I actually prefer the flavor of the potato cooked whole in the jacket. Doesn't get so watered out. Is trickier to cook them evenly though.
     
  4. chefguy

    chefguy

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    good, what kind of potato masher you prefer?
     
  5. gonefishin

    gonefishin

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       Thanks for posting BDL!

       Since you made mention of mashed potatoes in the other thread I was wondering if you were going to post anything,  Mashed potatoes are a funny thing...when they're not overworked they can be so scrumptious.  But overworked they seem to be an unwanted accompaniment on the plate.

       I make my mashed very similar to the way you describe.  I actually made some at work today and wrestled with the thought of bringing in my ricer, but decided I had enough to do already.  So a nice light mash did the trick...with a little truffle oil.

       One thing I can never get over is the amount of salt that's needed for mashed potatoes.  I always undersalt/taste about three times before reaching the desired level.  Taste, Taste, Taste!

      thanks for posting!
      dan
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Oops.

    Love your variations.  And the others' too.

    Never cooked the potatoes in milk.

    BDL
     
  7. kirstens

    kirstens

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    BDL, great recipe. Do you ever add cheese, say some freshly grated parmesan? Nice website too.
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    It has happened.  And on more than one occasion. 

    BDL
     
  9. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    THAT DOES IT BDL!

    Consider this "constructive notice" that I am seriously considering filing suit for "Obstruction of Culinary Education" due to your failure to PUBLISH!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/talker.gif
     
  10. french fries

    french fries

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    Thanks for posting that recipe BDL... and those "Notes" are exactly what separates amazing cook books from.... well..../img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  11. mrsound

    mrsound

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    I also prefer cooking the potato whole rather than cutting them into pieces. And I don't like it overcooked.
     
  12. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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  13. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    BDL - great menu and instructions - thankyou. Plus the humour adds flavour /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif   I rice if I have the time.  Superior result.  Like to add egg yolk to it as well, just before serving - forget the salmonella.


    By Koukouvagia
    Koukou - i was taught the same. My mother went nuts one day when I peeled,chopped and boiled them for her best known salad, Rassols,  whereas her method, which does taste better I freely admit, is done as you describe.  Burnt fingers are a part of it for sure.  She remade the whole thing.   She was so cross for a normally placid person. So if I am cooking with her, I do it her way. This was many many moons ago, but it feels like yesterday.  If its in my kitchen, welllll...my way!!



    P.S.  I tried to quote KKV's message this into my post but for some reason it wouldn't go...think my computer must be having a bad day
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2010
  14. indianfoodandy

    indianfoodandy

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    Has anybody else ever mixed a raw egg into mashed potatoes - it's very good

    Andy
     
  15. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Yes, infact DC Sunshine posted that right above your post.
     
  16. gerdosh

    gerdosh

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    Thanks for the recipes--this looks good. You are using 4 Tbsp butter for 4-5 serving, just the right amount giving nearly 1 Tbsp per serving. Not overly rich but with plenty of butter flavor. I also saute some minced garlic (half to 1 clove for 4 servings) just for a few seconds that I mix in with other ingredients: garlic mashed potatoes. To minimize cleanup work,I use a simple hand masher.
     
  17. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    How you cook the potatoes is a matter of preferrence.  Some like them boiled, others steamed or baked.  I pressure-steam my potatoes with the jackets on in the pressure cooker, rather than boiling.  They don't ever become waterlogged.  Skins slip right off,  or if they are new potatoes,  I might leave the skins on for "dirty spuds".  Texture and consistency is excellent.  I use a food mill.  I agree that mashed potatoes should never be put in a food processor or beat to a fare-thee-well with a mixer.  My MIL was proud of her "whipped" potatoes.  Like eating paste.  I warm the milk before adding it,  then stir in the room temp butter at the end.  mmm.  Making me hungry for some now. 
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  18. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    A couple of small thoughts from a small mind:

    This was really written as a primer for people who haven't had good results with mash.  Yet all of the comments are from people who already do very well thank you.  Some of the alternatives offered make for a very different product, like egg -- which changes light and fluffy to rich and substantial -- while others are variations on the flavor profile.   They're all wonderful. 

    The ratio of views to comments is pretty high.  So, I'm hoping that less experienced cooks absorb the basic Ten Commandments of mashed potatoes: 
    1. Don't overwork. 
    2. Salt AND pepper.
    3. Season in layers. 
    4. Don't undersalt. 
    5. Don't oversalt.   
    6. Onion family is good family 
    7. Lighten with milk or cream.
    8. Not too much liquid -- Don't make them too soupy. 
    9. Enough liquid -- Don't make them too dry. 
    10. Taste and adjust.
    BDL
     
  19. teamfat

    teamfat

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    More times than not, a few cloves of garlic, peeled and halved, find their way into the potato water.

    When I mash, I use one of my favorite kitchen tools:

    [​IMG]

    Both the egg beater and the masher are from my wife's grandfather's kitchen.  The egg beater is older, the masher fairly modern.

    mjb.
     
  20. coulis-o

    coulis-o

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    rather than boiling the potatoes in plain salted water they can be cooked in stock to add additional flavour to the mash.


    have tried cooking mash potato in milk the milk just burns don't do it.


    apart from boiling the potatoes can also be steam cooked, good for when the stoves full.