Mashed Potatoes

It’s mashed potatoes! Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes??? Well, for starters–my two boys are both completely put out when I serve mashed potatoes and they are forced to at least try it. And it’s soul-crushing every time they make a wonky, disgusted face as they choke down their single mushy bite. Maybe its the texture, maybe it’s mental, maybe they are just trying to be annoying. In any case, mashed potatoes ARE a staple and should be a staple in any house. They aren’t a staple in mine, but when we have them, Evie, Chuck, and I are in heaven!!!!

So, here’s the deal, I have to confess that over the past 4 years since moving to the Houston area, after 17 years in Fort Worth, every single batch of mashed potatoes I have made have been lumpy. Now, I only make them on special occasions so that’s almost worse because when the in-laws are sitting down to Christmas dinner, the last thing I want to do is apologize for my lumpy potatoes.

I’m assuming it has something to do with uneven heat or my failure to cut the potatoes into equal portions for even cooking times, but with this in mind, my last two batches have been stellar. I would also add, that a potato ricer (something I never owned, but my mom did) is actually the best way to make sure you don’t have lumps in your potatoes. I intend to purchase a potato ricer in the near future.

For our potatoes, we went with the classic method of peeling potatoes, boiling them, and mashing them with butter, cream, and salt. Easy peasy, right? Well, sort of. It’s truly amazing how any recipe can go off kilter with just a few missteps.

Ingredients: Yukon Gold Potatoes, butter, whipping cream, salt and pepper.

MASHED POTATOES RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds **Yukon Gold Potatoes, pealed and cubed
  • 1/4 cup butter (half a stick, unsalted or salted is fine – just take into account when seasoning potatoes)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Whipping Cream (depending on your preference; substitute milk or half and half, if desired)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Peel potatoes. Rinse any remaining dirt off the peeled potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place in large pot.
  2. Fill pot with cold water until all potatoes are covered and water is approximately 1-inch above the top layer of potatoes.
  3. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to prevent overflow of water, and continue to boil potatoes for approximately 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Use a fork to test whether the potatoes are cooked all the way through by poking the largest cube of potato you can find in the pot. If the fork slides in easily, you will know the potatoes are cooked through and ready to be drained.
  4. Drain potatoes in a colander. Allow potatoes to steam in the colander, untouched for approximately 2-3 minutes. This will “dry” out the potatoes.
  5. While potatoes steam in the colander, place the original pot back on the stove on low heat and add heavy cream and butter. Allow butter to melt while the cream warms in the pot. Once warm, add the “dry” potatoes to the butter and cream mixture and mash in the pot until creamy. Add additional cream and butter until potatoes reach your desired consistency.
  6. Add salt and pepper (and any additional spices) to taste. *Note: I enjoy adding roasted garlic or garlic powder to my potatoes – but I’ll save that recipe for “Advanced Recipes for Growing Up”.

**Note: Yukon Gold potatoes are the best potatoes for mashed potatoes. They have just the right amount of starch which leads to the fluffiest (least gummy) mashed potatoes. I showed the kids how there is a difference between the potatoes on the inside and the outside and it does make a difference. Below you can see George examining a gold potato on the right with a russet potato on the left. Will a different type of potato be sufficient in a pinch? Hell yes. Potatoes are delicious and satisfactory when prepared in any fashion with enough fat. (Read: butter, oil, and/or cream).

Begin by peeling your potatoes. This took much longer than expected in our house, but the job was done sufficiently, if not efficiently.

Peel potatoes.

Next, dice potato into cubes that are approximately the same size. This is a tricky lesson because, it takes a bit to process the fact that similarly sized cubes will cook at the same rate so that they are all finished cooking at the same time to the same level of done-ness. I recommend cubes that are approximately 1-inch cubed.

Evie dicing potatoes
George wielding a knife with very little precision.

Next step is to add the cubed potatoes to a large pot and cover with cold water (approximately 1 inch above the top layer of potatoes).

Evie held the heavy dutch oven as we added cold water. Miss Muscles!

Place the pot of potatoes and cold water on the stove and bring to a boil over high heat.

G turning the gas on high.
Salt the water if desired. I tend to add salt with the cream and butter.

Once the water boils you can lower it as long as the water is still boiling and the potatoes are cooking. Boil for approximately 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender – meaning when you poke them with a fork, the fork will go into the potato easily because the potato has cooked until it is tender. If you don’t cook it long enough, then you will end up with little lumps of uncooked potato in your mashed potatoes. For that reason, always test with the larger chunks of potatoes so you know that the biggest cubes of potato are cooked all the way through.

George checking for tenderness..

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Allow the potatoes to steam in the colander. This allows the potatoes to “dry” out a little bit. If you steam them, they lose some of their moisture so that they will soak up more butter and cream. This makes them creamier instead of watery.

Those are my hands handling the heavy pot full of hot water and potatoes.

While the potatoes are steaming, add the cream (or half and half or milk) to the pot along with your butter. Allow the butter to melt while the cream warms in the pot. Once warm, you can pour the “dry” potatoes back into the pot and start mashing it all together.

Evie measured out the whipping cream.
George added butter and stirred it until melted.
George added potatoes to the heated butter and cream.
Evie mashed.

If your potatoes aren’t creamy enough, add additional cream and butter until you are at the right consistency. Finally, add salt (and pepper, if desired). We used a potato masher, but you can also use a potato ricer (as I mentioned above), or even use a hand mixer to blend the potatoes up nice and smooth.

Evie added salt and pepper.
Served our mashed potatoes along side the perfect pork tenderloin and a salad.

I’m pleased to announce that there were no lumps in these potatoes and they were devoured by everyone except the picky boys!

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