Mashed potatoes — well, any potatoes for that matter, got a bad rap earlier this year when they were blamed for weight gain – not just french fries — any potatoes. But for some of us, we need mashed potatoes to put that terrific turkey gravy on, and that’s just all there is to it.
This isn’t a recipe, but it will give you somethings we’ve learned over the years to do — and not to do.
Choose your favorite potato: The white wax potatoes, or the heirloom fingerlings are great potatoes — but not especially for mashing. The larger red potatoes, russetts or Yukon Gold are good.
We like to peel the potatoes, but it’s not a big deal if you leave on the skins. But, just clean them really well, take out the eyes, and if they’re russets, scrub them.
Cook the peeled and quartered potatoes in lots of water on top of the stove until a knife can easily pierce them. Drain off the water (it’s good to save this in a bowl and use for the gravy, along with some chicken stock). Let them sit a while until they are cool down just enough to handle.
At this point, we like to put them through a ricer, which takes a little time but makes a difference. No ricer? Then mash them. Just don’t put them in a food processor or mixer. They will turn gluey very quickly and nobody wants gluey mashed potatoes!
While you’re ricing or mashing the potatoes, you can be heating up a cup or so of milk (more than this if you making a big batch of mashed potatoes), or if you want richer potatoes, a cup of half and half. You want enough liquid to make them creamy. Also, you should have some butter on hand, but don’t melt it. OK if it’s at cool room temperature.
Some people put in the butter first, but I like to add the hot milk to keep the potatoes warm, then the butter, lump by lump, stirring it in well. Finally, add salt and white pepper (not too much) to taste.
A couple of variations: If you want utterly decadent mashed potatoes, you can add truffle butter or black truffle olive oil. And/or a half cup of sour cream. For garlic mashed potatoes, do it the Ruth’s Chris way: peel several large cloves of garlic and cook them in with the potatoes, then mash them as well.