My family loves mashed potatoes. When I make them they love me… at least I can be sure they’ll tell me so that day! If I want them to stroke my ego all I have to do is make mashed potatoes. If it comes with gravy it’s even better!
As a young bride I was afraid of making mashed potatoes. Would I have enough? Would they be lumpy? And peeling them was so much work!
I’ve since learned that if fancy restaurants in posh communities can leave the skin on and charge extra for it… then there’s nothing wrong with me saving some time and cooking them in their jackets! Now it’s a snap to make them.
Hopefully this recipe will take some of the guesswork out of it for you too!
2 medium potatoes per person (any kind work, but red skin potatoes are best)
enough water to barely cover the potatoes in a large pot
1 tbsp butter or margarine per potato
2 tbsp milk per potato
- If you want mashed potatoes that have no skin on them, peel them all with a vegetable peeler and remove all the eyes. If you don’t mind the color and texture of some skin in your mashed potatoes (which I highly recommend) wash them, remove large eyes (small eyes can be left) and cut away any darkened or rough/tough skin.
- Cut the potatoes into small pieces. The size isn’t as important as making them similar in size. If they are all about the same size they will all cook at about the same speed and be done at the same time. That keeps some from getting mushy and others from being crunchy.
- Put the rinsed potatoes into a large cooking pot. Potatoes shouldn’t fill the pot by more than 2/3. Add cold water until it is nearly covering the potatoes.
- Sprinkle salt over it all.
- Heat to boiling on high, covered. (I like to use cold water to start as it seems to keep the water from getting too pasty during cooking.)
- Once the water is boiling, turn it down to medium low. It should keep boiling but not boil over. Stir occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
- You will know the potatoes are done when you pierce a piece of potato with a fork and it slides in without any resistance. They should be soft. Not ‘kind of’ soft. Very soft. Cook them a little more than you would for serving boiled potatoes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, in a small pot or saucepan melt the butter and heat the milk and salt and pepper. Keep it warm on the stove until ready to use. Warming the milk and butter together keeps the potatoes hotter for serving and seems to help the mashing go more smoothly.
- When potatoes are cooked, drain them. If you’d like, reserve the potato water (more on this below).
- With a potato masher begin mashing the potatoes, making sure to get right into the corners. Once they’ve all been broken up a bit add the warm butter/milk mixture a little at a time. Mash well between additions. You can use a spatula to get everything out of the corners and sides of the pot so everything is evenly mashed and there are no lumps.
- Transfer to a large serving dish or bowl. Place a dollop of butter on top, and if you like, a sprig of parsley as garnish.
It is said that the best mashed potatoes are the ones with drops of sweat added in during mashing! Obviously… that doesn’t mean you need to add sweat to the recipe! It just means a good pot of mashed potatoes will require mashing until you break a sweat! That’s what makes them light, fluffy and smooth.
Some people may prefer to save their energy and use a hand mixer. This can work, but it will give you a different texture and needs to be done with caution. Using a hand mixer will make your dish smooth and creamy, but can release the starches in the potatoes producing something that ends up looking and tasting more like glue than anything else. I think many cooks have made the mistake of using a hand mixer to make the potatoes “extra special” when company is coming, only to discover she’s put potato glue on the table for her guests to enjoy.
So if you decide to use a hand mixer, first mash it by hand as much as you can so you will have as little effort for the mixer as possible. And stop as soon as they are fluffy.
Now you can make potatoes as good as Grandma’s and it’ll go great with your gravy!
***If you are counting calories or fat grams you may want to use 1/2 of the butter and milk ingredients, replacing them with the cooking water. You will need to be even more careful if you use a hand mixer… I’d highly recommend using just the masher.
***If you are making gravy (ever) potato water makes great gravy water. So if you are not making gravy feel free to cool and refrigerate it for when you do.
How about you?
Any stories about mashed potatoes out there? Has anyone ever served potato glue?