Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Making Perfect Mashed Potatoes, Whether Plain or Gussied Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Making Perfect Mashed Potatoes, Whether Plain or Gussied Up

Article excerpt

Are you the sort of person who insists that Thanksgiving mashed potatoes can only be served straight up buttery, or are you willing to allow room for a little creative adulteration in the name of bigger, bolder flavor?

Either way, we've got you covered. We started by creating a master recipe for basic, buttery-creamy mashed potatoes that are delicious just as they are. Stick with this version if you think mashed potatoes with anything beyond the basics (and a few lumps) is just a distraction. But in case you're the type who gives thanks for the wild side of things, we also offer you six ways to jazz up our basic recipe.

But before we tackle any of that, you first have to consider your potato varieties. Which variety you use depends on the type of mashed potatoes you want. If you prefer super fluffy, pure white mashed potatoes, russets are a good choice. If you're going for ultra-buttery, use Yukon Golds. And if you like to leave the skin on all or some of the potatoes, red bliss are a good choice because their thinner skin mixes into the mash (Yukon Golds are a good middle ground, but russets are too thick).

How you mash the potatoes also changes the consistency of the dish. For ultimate fluffiness, squeeze the potatoes through a ricer. Food mills also make very smooth potatoes. If you're going for chunky (or left the skins on), you'll want to use a hand-held potato masher. Then there's the mixer. Some people use it, but it's not a great choice. It can easily overwork the potatoes, breaking down the starches and producing the dreaded gluey potato syndrome. If you insist, go easy.

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PERFECT MASHED POTATOES

Yield: 10 servings

5 pounds potatoes, peeled or not, cut into 1-inch chunks

Kosher salt

cup ( stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 to 1 cups half-and-half, warmed

Ground white pepper

1. Place the cut potatoes in a large pot, then add enough cool water to cover by at least 1 inch. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are very tender and a fork penetrates them easily. Timing will vary by potato variety, but should take between 10 and 15 minutes. …

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