While I said in my past few posts that I cannot get through Thanksgiving without my Traditional Bread Stuffing or my Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shallots & Pancetta, I am serious when I say that I CANNOT make it through Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes! They are creamy, fluffy and it’s the best vehicle to transport gravy!
While a recipe for mashed potatoes may seem to be a bit excessive since there are so few ingredients involved in this recipe, I have lots of tips and tricks to share with you to get the best mashed potatoes ever. Just like these ones below…
That butter pool tho….
First off, the type of potato matters. The best types of potatoes for mashed potatoes are russet or Yukon gold potatoes. Russet potatoes have a really high starchiness and are light and fluffy in texture when cooked. These types of potatoes are typically used for baked potatoes (also delicious!). Alternatively, Yukon gold potatoes are excellent as they are creamy in texture but they are a bit dense when cooked. To get the best of both worlds, my mashed potato recipe uses both types of potatoes.
Russet potato (left) and Yukon gold potatoes (right)
The way you cook the potatoes is also important. I don’t want to tell you how to boil water here….but I am. Well, I’m telling you how to best boil water with potatoes in it LOL. To ensure that the potatoes cook evenly, place them in a pot of cold water, making sure they are covered by at least an inch of water, and then bring the entire contents of the pot up to a boil. If you toss potatoes into a pot of boiling water, not only does the temperature of the water become reduced, it results in unevenly cooked potatoes. Not what we want here! Additionally, it is important to add salt to the pot as the potatoes come up to a boil. The salt helps flavour the potatoes as they cook so that you don’t have bland potatoes in the end. For every pound of potatoes, I use two teaspoons of salt.
Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain them off very well and return them back to the hot pot that they were cooking in. The heat from the pot helps evaporate the leftover water on the potatoes so that the potatoes don’t get too mushy once mashed. At this point you can go ahead and add your butter and milk. Many people add butter and milk straight from the fridge and then proceed to mash the heck out of the potatoes, but it’s actually better to add them separately to the pot and to add them already pre-warmed. It seems like extra work- but trust me, it’s so worth it! You can easily pop them into separate dishes and blitz them in the microwave, or you can heat them in separate pots on the stove. My secret technique (to help save on dirty pots) is to add the cold butter to the hot pot before I re-add the cooked potatoes. The pot is still super warm and melts the butter instantly. Then when I add the hot potatoes back in, I can get straight into mashing these two ingredients together. I add the milk to the pot in one go once I have about half of the potatoes mashed.
The technique to mashing the potatoes is another important key to great mashed potatoes. I have seen many folks add the potatoes to a stand mixer or a food processor for fast and easy work. But what’s fast and easy isn’t always the best. Mashing, or I guess creaming, the potatoes in a food processor or stand mixer is a big no-no since these machines rapidly rip through the potatoes which allows more starch to be released, resulting in a gummy or gluey texture. Again, not what we want…and we don’t want to dirty any more dishes LOL! It is best to use a traditional hand masher or even a fork as this mashes through the potatoes but doesn’t release as much starch, resulting in much fluffier mashed potatoes.
Once your potatoes are mashed, you can fold in any ingredients you like. Maybe some shredded cheddar cheese, or some bacon, or maybe some sour cream some cream cheese? The sky is the limit when it comes to mashed potatoes! For my Thanksgiving menu, I went for a classic Chive Mashed Potato. I love chives and I have a TON growing in my garden, so I felt like I should use them. I also just happen to love the mild onion flavour that it gives the potatoes. It’s just perfect for Thanksgiving!
If you have hung in with me until the end here, I congratulate you. Making mashed potatoes seems easy, but a few little tricks will transform the average mashed potato into something extraordinary! Let me know in the comments below if you already knew these tricks or if you learned something new!
For the full recipe for my Chive Mashed Potatoes, click here!