Sure, we all love French fries, but there's just something about mashing the potatoes into a creamy side dish that has no competition on the table. If you're making them for a family dinner, here are some tips and tricks for great mashed potatoes.
Potatoes are excellent for so many side dishes. There are plenty of types and also so many ways to cook them, that it's impossible to get bored of them. Want something crunchy and just the right amount of greasy? Make French fries. In the mood for something hearty and full of flavor and texture? Go for a potato salad. But if you are looking for that dish that spells 'home' to you and your guests, something simple yet satisfying, there is one answer: get that great mashed potatoes dish on the table.
I have a complicated history with this dish in the sense that I want it done just right. I don't want it to be overly creamy or the starches in the potatoes start to act out. I don't like to feel the not mashed bits of potatoes while I eat. And I truly believe that this dish can only be great if you add a bit of fat. Basically, I spent my whole life looking for the unicorn of mashed potatoes, the ones that sometimes my mother used to make, that melted perfectly in my mouth and seemed simple and sweet. I have tried time and time again to recreate that feeling and I think I am finally in a place where I am satisfied with my results. I actually made my version for my roommate last week and she loved it. Here are the effective tips I've learned!
5 tips and tricks for great mashed potatoes
1. You need the right kind of potatoes
No question about it, there is one type of potato to rule them all when it comes to making great mashed potatoes. And that one is Yukon gold. They're both waxy and fluffy, which means they have the perfect consistency for boiling and then mashing and will yield the best texture for your final product.
2. Cut them in large pieces
You don't want your potatoes to absorb too much of the water when boiling, because you want to save some room for the fat later in the game. If you cut them into tiny pieces and boil them like that, the end result will be more like a liquid then a cream or mash.
3. Strike the iron while hot
Or the potatoes while hot. They will be so much easier to work with if you take them out of the pot and mash them right away. So boil them, drain them carefully and mash away.
4. Add fat, then liquid
And when I say fat I mean salty, delicious butter to just add so much flavor and help bind the potato mash. I add a dollop of butter, mash a bit more (but not too much, you don't want to agitate the starches in the potato) and then taste to see if it needs more. Then add the liquid as well. You can go for full-fat milk or a bit of heavy cream, to make sure the consistency at the end is as creamy and delicious as possible.
When it comes to the liquid, make sure that you don't add it all at once, because the spuds cannot soak it up that fast.
5. Don't forget to taste
This cannot be repeated enough. The key to any dish is tasting it every so often, to make sure that it's balanced. Taste after every step. Not salty enough? Sprinkle in some more. Need more cream? Then add just a touch. Take your time, there is no rushing through a great dish.