Mashed Potato Rules

Creamy mashed potatoes with no lumps are the goal.

Whether it is a Tuesday night supper or Thanksgiving dinner, mashed potatoes are an important part of the meal, even the star of many dishes. But there are a few things that can go wrong resulting in a lumpy mash, lack of flavor, or watery texture. Follow these rules for the best bowl of mashed potatoes ever!

  1. Use the right potatoes. You want a starchy potato such as Yukon gold, all-purpose white potatoes, or russets. Avoid waxy potatoes such as red. I like Yukon gold the best because the slightly yellow flesh looks richer, and much of what we eat is the feast of the eyes. However, there are firm russet lovers out there who would use nothing but!
  2. Scrub your potatoes, but don’t peel them until they are cooked.
  3. Uniformity is important. Use potatoes that are roughly the same size so they will all be cooked at the same time.
  4. Cover the potatoes with COLD, SALTED water in a pot with plenty of room and cover by an inch of water.
  5. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until a fork inserted in a potato goes in easily. If you use a knife, it may be so sharp it will trick you into thinking the potato is done. If your knives are really dull, you can use them to test the potatoes (but go get them sharpened). Undercooked potatoes are one of the main causes of lumpy potatoes.
  6. Drain well once the potatoes are cooked. Return them to the pot for a minute or two, covered, to absorb any extra moisture.
  7. Gently peel the potatoes by using your sharp paring knife, pulling the skins off with the tip of the blade. If the skins are really thin, you can rub them off with your fingers.
  8. Season generously. Potatoes can take a fair amount of both salt and pepper, and love the addition of herbs and tangy dairy.
  9. Rice the potatoes or put through a food mill. This will ensure the best texture.
  10. Never put the potatoes in a food processor or blender. You will get an inedible starchy mess.
  11. Add only warmed milk, plant milk, or stock to the potatoes. If adding any herbs, add them to the milk so they will infuse.
  12. Add the liquid slowly, moving the potatoes gently in the bowl. Add the liquid until it is where you want it, a little at a time.
  13. If you want even lighter, fluffier, whipped potatoes, use an electric hand mixer on low speed to blend everything together.
  14. Serve hot! Mashing the potatoes should be the last thing you do before sitting down to dinner.
  15. The day before you can prep the potatoes up to the riced stage, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a day. To reheat the next day, pop in the microwave on medium high until hot. Proceed as above.
  16. If they need to sit the day of, place them in a covered bowl over a simmering pot of water. Don’t let the bottom of the bowl hit the water. You can keep them like this for a half hour. Even better yet, you can also put them in a pre-heated slow cooker!

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