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Simple Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Yesterday I received a request through my wife for my mashed potato recipe. Honestly, I’d never thought to post it, because to me, it’s just one of those things that I make without thinking about it. I’ve been helping my mother make mashed spuds since I was six years old and I suppose I just assumed that everyone else had done the same. I really should know better by now, shouldn’t I?

As my wife kindly pointed out to me, there is a whole generation of people who grew up eating mashed potatoes primarily from a box or a tin. While I’ll admit to having used potato flakes, they simply don’t compare to the fresh alternative. (They do however, work wonderfully as a thickener in soups and stews, and are great at fixing a batch of fresh potatoes if too much liquid has been added, but that’s an entry for another time.)

Homemade mashed potatoes should not be daunting, nor are they complicated. The basic procedure is a simple 3 step process of boil, add flavorings and mash. Many of the more modern upscale recipes call for the use of a food mill or potato ricer. If you have either of these tools, by all means feel free to use them, but they aren’t strictly necessary. All you need is a mashing device. This can be a large fork or slotted spoon, a potato masher or a hand held mixer.

I’ll cover the basics here, then point out some additions and other tips at the end.


Simple Mashed Potatoes Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 – 12 russet or Idaho potatoes
  • (A good rule of thumb is 4 small, 2 medium or 1 baking-sized potato per person.)
  • Butter or margarine
  • Milk, heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
Method
  1. Peel potatoes and cut in even sized chunks. The smaller the chunks, the quicker they’ll cook, larger pieces make for a more uniform consistency.
  2. Place potatoes in a large stock pot or soup pot, cover with water and salt liberally. Place pot over medium high heat until the water boils, then reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until fork tender. (A fork or knife should pierce the potato pieces with little or no resistance.) Drain potatoes and return to pot over low heat for approximately 2 minutes, or until the potatoes no longer produce large quantities of steam.
  3. Add butter, milk salt and pepper. (Again, this depends on the number of potatoes used. Start with 2 tbsp butter or margarine and 1/4 cup milk, you can always add more if the potatoes are too thick, but add too much and you’re on your way to potato soup.) Mash potatoes until they achieve desired consistency, adding more liquids as needed. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Notes
Amounts are not given for milk, butter or seasoning. this is because they greatly depend on the potatoes you are using. The older the potato, the more milk and butter you’ll need, there’s a little playing by ear involved here, but don’t worry!

Plating :

It really doesn’t matter how you plate them. In a mound covered in gravy. In a serving bowl, family style or shaped to look like Devil’s Tower, they’re still going to be great.

Options:

Options for mashed potatoes are pretty limitless.

  • Cook the potatoes in chicken stock or vegetable stock for a richer flavor.
  • Add roasted garlic and Parmesan cheese right before you mash them and then drizzle a little olive oil over them on the plate.
  • Use them as a base for a dish, or as the top of a Sheppard’s pie.
  • Add a bit of interest by folding in some cooked greens and roasted garlic. (Collard, mustard, turnip or turnip greens, any chard or broccoli rabe would work well.)
  • Fold in crumbled bacon and some chives.

I could go on, but I think the point is made. Mashed potatoes are incredibly versatile. Use your imagination, you’ll come up with a crowd-pleaser, I assure you!

What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:

I can’t mention the number of different things I’ve used mashed potatoes for over the years, and I’m not going to try. *grin*

Links to other recipes like this:

Enjoy!

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