If there’s one side dish that compliments nearly every main course, especially on the holidays, it’s mashed potatoes! However, mashed potatoes can either turn out okay or they can be velvety buttery perfectly seasoned spoonfuls of unforgettable goodness. And for that, you need the perfect recipe.
For the perfect mashed potatoes, you need to use the right ingredients, technique, and tools. Why, you ask? A potato is a potato, right? Well despite it being a fairly simple dish, mashed potatoes can sometimes turn out to be a gluey nightmare instead of a fluffy velvety dream.
Have you ever tasted gummy and heavy mashed potatoes? I have, and it was an unfortunate experience. It actually put me off mashed potatoes for a while. So what can you do to prevent this awful texture? And what actually causes the texture to begin with?
Well first you have to start off with the right type of potato. No, when it comes to mashed potatoes, not all potatoes are created equal! The main thing to watch for when choosing potatoes at the grocery store or farmers market, it making sure to pick potatoes that are high in starch and low in moisture.
This seems counterintuitive. It’s the starch from the potato which makes it gluey, is it not? Then why on earth would we choose a high-starch potato from the get go? Well a low-starch high- moisture potato such as a red bliss or white potato requires much more mashing to break them down, thus increasing the possibility of over mashing. When you over mash, you overwork the starch and the result is gooey, gluey, gummy inedible mashed potatoes.
There are two potatoes most commonly used to make mashed potatoes; Yukon gold, and the russet potato. Now Yukon gold potatoes actually contain a medium starch level and low moisture, however are still a common mashed potato due to its naturally creamy texture.
The russet potato, otherwise known as the Idaho and baker potato, in my personal opinion is the best type of potato to use when making mashed potatoes. It is high in starch content and low in moisture which allows for a lighter mash, and an incredibly fluffy light result.
Now that we know which potatoes work best, it’s time to talk about technique. When boiling potatoes, it’s crucial to ensure the pieces of potato are relatively similar in size, otherwise some pieces will cook faster and some slower, and that will throw your texture off.
And do you know what? The cooking technique for mashed potatoes is actually a little backwards if I do say so. When cooking almost anything else, your pot of water must be boiling, or your oil must be hot right? Well in our case we need our potatoes to be placed into a pot with cold water and we need to bring that to a boil. If potatoes are placed into a boiling pot of water, the outside of the potatoes will cook faster than the inside resulting in uneven cooking.
There’s one more thing I’d like to advise before we jump into the creamy mashed potatoes recipe. The tools you use to mash your potatoes matter. It may be tempting to use a hand held electric mixer to mash your potatoes, but beware! Using an electric mixer opens the door for overworking the starch and ending up with those gluey potatoes we don’t want. Instead, use a manual potato masher and mash gently and carefully not to over mash.
There are a few things that can help your mashed potatoes get creamier faster without over mashing and those things are: butter and milk. It’s also important to use ingredients that are room temperature, because we don’t want to add anything too cold to our hot potatoes.
What You Need:
6 russet potatoes
1/4 cup soft butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup milk (warm)
Scrub and peel russet potatoes and cut into quarters. Add potatoes into a pot full of cold water high enough to cover potatoes, and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes until a sharp knife pierces and glides through easily. It takes approximately 15 minutes to boil the potatoes. Drain potatoes and add back into pot.
Add 1/4 cup soft butter, 1/2 cup warm milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. All the ingredients should be room temperature and warm, and will therefore melt quickly into the mashed potatoes but if you want to expedite the butter melting, leave the pot on the warmer you used to boil.
Now use a manual masher to mash all the ingredients together until silky smooth. Do not use an electric mixer to avoid overworking the potatoes and starch. If dinner isn’t for a couple of hours, use a slow cooker to keep the mashed potatoes warm until ready to serve!
This recipe will yield the creamiest, fluffiest, and silkiest mashed potatoes you’ve ever tried. Even a recipe as seemingly simple as mashed potatoes really can be elevated from just okay to amazing! When ready to serve, add more butter to the top and sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives. Your family and friends will be begging you for the recipe!