Help me make mashed potatoes.

Does anyone know whether the potatoes have to be added to already boiling water, or whether they should be put in cold and then brought to the boil? Or even if that makes a difference?

I’m okay once the potatoes are cooked - I know how to finish up from there* - but I cannot think how to start it off.

Please help me! My cook books apparently think it’s too simplistic to mention, as to the web sites I googled. They’re full of suggestions for flavours, but nothing covering my question (at least that I could find).

  • Not that suggestions for yummy creamy mash recipes aren’t appreciated, of course.

[li]Peel potatoes[/li][li]Cut up potatoes[/li][li]Place cut up potatoes in pot[/li][li]Put pot full of cut up potatoes under tap[/li][li]Turn knob to start water flow, ideally cold[/li][li]Let water flow into pot filled with cut up potatoes[/li][li]When cut up potatoes in pot are covered by one inch of water, turn tap in other direction to stop water flow[/li][li]Carry pot filled with water and cut up potatoes to stove[/li][li]Place pot filled with water and cut up potatoes on burner[/li][li]Turn knob that turns burner on[/li][li]Turn to “high”[/li][li]DO NOT TOUCH BURNER[/li][li]Cover pot filled with water and cut up potatoes with lid[/li][li]Watch pot[/li][li]Continue watching pot[/li][li]Don’t look away[/li][li]Turn knob to “off”[/li][li]Take pot filled with hot water and cut up cooked potatoes off burner[/li][li]DO NOT TOUCH BURNER[/li][li]DO NOT TOUCH WATER[/li][li]DO NOT TOUCH POTATOES[/li][li]The rest should be in one of your recipes.[/li][/ul]

You will want to add the chopped roasted garlic before you add the butter and milk, then you can begin mashing. :smiley:

Thank you!

That’s exactly the kind of instruction I needed! :smiley:

Don’t peel them or use water at all, apart from scrubbing them clean in it. Water makes them, well, watery, and the peel is the best (and most nutritious) bit.

Just nuke’em in the microwave until soft, they cook in their jackets beautifully. Four fist-sized potatoes take about 6 minutes depending on your micro.

Then put them whole into a big mixing bowl and mash the hell out of them, peel and all. Add real butter, salt and fresh-ground pepper. Just as you’re ready to serve put grated sharp cheddar (not that horrible orange American stuff) in and give it another good going over with the masher. If you think it needs moisture add cream or more butter, never milk.



Casey1505, do you reckon that minced garlic browned in a pan would substitute for roasted? I don’t actually possess any of the real stuff.

Yes, it’ll do, perfectly adequate.

Or that’s another working solution! I should have thought of that, since I’ve done jacket potatoes in the microwave before. :smack:

Wouldn’t the peel result in odd papery bits throughout the mash, though?

Btw, I’m right with you on the cream and butter thing, and plenty of freshly ground pepper… yum!

You know about the difference between bakers and boilers, right? Depending on the starch content of that particular breed of spud?

laugh Baby steps, Barbarian! Baby steps!

Today, I learned that the potatoes start off in cold water or a microwave.

I’m not sure if I’m up to the paradigm shift that might accompany the concept of boiler vs baker potatoes - but please, fill me in anyway. It just may come in handy the next time I go to buy potatoes.

For the record, today’s gourmet potato offering involves standard white ones that came without a name such as ‘desiree’ or ‘pontiac’. Hopefully that means they’re a generic all-purpose spud. (?)

bolding mine :smiley:

You laugh…I saw somebody throw out a dozen boiled eggs one night because they weren’t fully cooked. She threw them in the disposal and got another dozen out and started from the beginning. :eek: :smack:

Two essential ingredients - sage and dill. And make sure you’re using white pepper.

One important thing - the dairy that you add should be warm, not straight-from-the-fridge-cold.
Let the butter (real butter!) sit out and get to room temp, and warm the milk slightly in the microwave. Don’t boil it, just warm it up a little.

Okay! Well, tonight’s dinner was rather a quantity vs quality affair, BUT I’ve bookmarked the good advice here, and when I can face mashed potatoes again, I’m definitely going to do the:

*real butter
*warm dairy
*roast garlic
*… I’ll try white pepper, but it seems unnatural…

  • I’ll even investigate the kinds of potato to see what constitutes an ideal ‘boiling potato’!

Not having had any of the vital flavourings on hand except some cream (turns out I didn’t even have minced garlic! My fridge is a tragic place.) and margarine (not butter) I have a feeling things could have turned out ever so much better.

Also, the el cheapo potato masher left lumps - not big ones, but definitely lumps. I don’t like lumps! So I’ll have to try and find one with smaller holes.

Mashed Potato: It may not be haute cuisine, but if I’m going to cook it, I’m going to get it right…eventually!

Thanks all! :smiley:

Sorry I got here too late but…
You being from Oz it’s difficult to say which kind of potato to use as I don’t know what you have down there. What you’re looking for is a non-waxy spud. In the USA this would be a Russet or in Ireland a Golden Wonder.

I would guess in Oz that the best to use would be a Roseval or a King Edward
As you know by now, always cook them in cold water but make sure you put in enough water to just cover the potatos which have been peeled and cut into chunks. As soon as the water begins to boil you can remove the lid and reduce the heat until the water simmers. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. Test them by taking out a chunk and trying to mash it with a fork or tongs.

It’s up to you what you want to put in them. Butter and milk/cream of course.
Garlic is always an option as it bacon, cheese or pesto…

what you add is up to you but for the first time it’s always good to just make 'em plain so that you know you’ve got the basics :slight_smile:

Three recommendations, speaking from a lot of trial-and-error experience:

  1. If you are watching your calories, I’ve found that chicken stock makes and excellen thinning agent. If you use stock you can then drastically cut back on the butter and/or cream, using only a little bit of each, and the finished product still tastes awesome.

  2. Please, for the love of all things culinary, NEVER, EVER MASH THE POTATOES USING A FOOD PROCESSOR. See, when you use a food processor, the blade not only mashes the potatoes, but actually breaks apart the starch molecules so you get a culinary abortion that looks and feels rather like glue. I swear you could mortar bricks with that nastiness. Instead, the best tool I’ve found, by far, to mash potatoes is a potato ricer. It sits on the edge of your bowl, and you just squash it down like a garlic press. It’s way easier than the manual masher things. Most ricers have interchangeable blades that control just how fine of a mash you get. Some people like their potatoes lumpy, and some like 'em smooth. The ricer will get you both.

  3. My absolute favorite flavor addition – aside from the aforementioned garlic, chives, Italian parsley, etc – is celery root, known in some parts as celeriac. It is exactly what it sounds like: the root that usually is chopped off of the long green stalks of celery. The thing is ugly, but man, does it make a marvelous addition to mashed potatoes. You peel it (I’ve found that it’s a bit too knobby for a conventional peeler, so I usually end up slicing the skin off with a knife, ending up with a polyhedronish looking thing), then chop it into large chunks and throw in to boil with the potatoes. The cooking times are about the same – cook to fork-tender. Then proceed with the mashed potatoes as usual. You’ll end up with an indescribably yummy celery-ish flavor. I swear by the stuff.

Bon Appétit!

Another hint that I saw on The Food Network: After the spuds are done, put them back on the burner for a few seconds to boil off any residual water. This makes them more fluffy.

Roasted garlic is easy! Take a whole head of garlic and cut in half. Place on a baking sheet, brush the cut sides with olive or vegetable oil, and bake at 350° for 1/2 hour or so. Then squeeze the cooked garlic cloves into a small bowl and mash, then add to your 'taters. Mash as usual, with butter and cream, salt and pepper. Yummy!

**1: **

What a fantastic gadget! I was using one of those hand mashing things, and it’s got giant holes in it, so it was absolutely useless for getting out small lumps. A food processor hadn’t occurred to me, since I figured it’d probably just turn it into potato soup, more or less.

I shall check out my local kitchenware place and see if we posess such nifty gadgets as potato ricers. :slight_smile:

2: As for the posts by other folks on flavourings… celery sounds divine, and I’ll definitely try it sometime. Roast garlic looks like it might be easy enough for me to do, and will probably be the first thing I try - the fact that it’s cooked separately to the potatoes is a good start for me. (I reckon I’ll progress to potentially wreaking destruction upon celery after I’ve mastered the art of garlic.) Oh, and pesto sounds like a yummy alternative, too!

Who knew there were so many great variations on such a plain food?

3: Apparently my local Coles supermarket actually has signs above the potato selection which describes the best use for each potato. Never noticed it, but I guess I wasn’t looking, either. :wink:

Cutting or peeling potatoes before boiling is begging for waterlogged potatoes that get mealy when hot and gummy when cold. Moral of the story: never, ever boil a potato that isn’t intact. Nevah! Evah! The skin is porous enough to allow moisture in to hydrate the flesh of the potato while protecting against overhydration, and that barrier is a necessity.

Place the potatoes (whole and unpeeled) into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt (preferably large grain kosher or sea salt) and reduce the heat so that the potatoes are simmering. Cook at a simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, for six good sized potatoes that will be about 20 minutes.

About fifteen minutes into the potatoes cooking process, put milk into a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Don’t let it boil, but let it get nice and warm.

When the potatoes are tender, drain off the water and return the potatoes, in the original cooking pot, back to the stove. Let the cooked potatoes sit on low heat for 2-3 minutes to remove any excess water lurking around.

Run the dry cooked potatoes through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl. (Add roasted garlic and any other herbs/spices at this time except salt. Save salt for last.) Add the butter to the potatoes and mix it through so it has time to melt well. Then add the hot milk, in small batches, and stir everything until smooth. Add salt to taste, and serve right away.

If you don’t have easy access to roast garlic, just throw a (peeled) clove or two into the pot along with the (unpeeled) spuds.