Recipe: Basic mashed potatoes, adapted from Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything"
Mark Bittman, who writes about food for the New York Times, has a lot to say about mashed potatoes. His advice made all of my mashed potato failures crystal clear: never use a mixer, and, for God's sake, stop poking them while they cook! Using mixers, food processors or blenders to mash your potatoes will make them gummy. Bittman suggests using a ricer, food mill or potato masher instead. Since seeking help for my mashed potato-making woes, I've been turning out consistently good spuds.
- 2 pounds baking or all-purpose potatoes
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 3/4 cup of milk, gently warmed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Peel the potatoes. Or don't, if you like peels in your mashed potatoes. Just be sure to scrub the potatoes well if you decide to leave the peels on.
2. Cut the potatoes into roughly similar sized chunks.
3. Put the potatoes in a deep pot and cover with cold, salted water and set to boil. Keep them at a rolling boil for 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer or sharp knife inserted into one meets almost no resistance.
4. When the potatoes are done, drain them, then mash them well. If you prefer lumpy mashed potatoes, mash them with a fork or potato masher. If you like them smooth and creamy, use a food mill or ricer.
5. Return the potatoes to the pot over very low heat and stir in the butter and — gradually — the warmed milk, beating with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or keep warm over a double boiler.
If you like your mashed potatoes with some garlic flavor, peel a head or two of garlic and boil them along with the potatoes.
I usually double this recipe when cooking for 6-8 people.
This recipe was adapted by Jessica Webster and originally posted on AnnArbor.com on Dec. 22, 2010.