Perfect Creamy Buttery Autumn Mashed Potatoes
In our home, mashed potatoes is an autumn staple to most of our dinners. They warm and fill your tummy just so, and accept a lot of flavors: from herbs and spices to meats and vegetables, and even autumn fruits. Not to mention, potatoes are also much more than just starch. They hold many valuable vitamins and minerals. In fact, did you know that you can live on salted and buttered potatoes? Butter holds key nutrients that potatoes do not, and vice versa. Salt is simply a must for survival, especially iodized salt. Together they hold everything you need. Mashed potatoes have often found their way as a main course or variable side on our dinner table, and will continue to because of this. Not to mention, they taste soooo perfect when done correctly.
Knowing how to make a perfect mashed potato is the foundation to so many kitchen cooking meal options. You can make double batches easily so that what you don't use one night can be re-purposed for the next. As we are a family of six, I find this method useful and efficient, and helps time and space wise. In fact for this recipe, I'll be writing out the same amount I normally do; so if you are a family of two, three, or four, you'll have left overs for a third day (though I wouldn't save them for longer than that, as they are potatoes and therefore have a short fridge life and I wouldn't recommend freezing them).
Cost: under $10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes to boil, 5 minutes to whip
Ready in: 30-40 minutes
Yields: 12 1 cup servings
5 lbs organic russet potatoes peeled and cut
1 fourth cup to half a cup organic fat free milk
2 sticks salted organic butter
5 teaspoons iodized salt (1half teaspoon for boiling potatoes, 4 and a half teaspoons for whipping)
1fourth teaspoon olive oil (for boiling potatoes)
water (for boiling potatoes)
sharp all purpose cutting knife
large cooking pot. (If you're not sure what size your pot is, it should be able to hold 5 pounds of cut potatoes with room for water to cover and exceed the potatoes by an extra one to three inches plus room for boiling where you won't get too much water bubbling out over the sides.)
oven pads or mitts
large mixing bowl
The key to perfect autumn mashed potatoes and variant recipes, lies in the potatoes you use and their preparation. First and foremost, organic potatoes hold more flavor. Firmness is also important. The harder the potatoes, preferably no green showing through the skin, and definitely no "eyes", the better for a fluffier, more nutritious, and less starchy (or gluey) mash.
Peeled potatoes for mashing is optional but skin-on potatoes will not be considered in the instructions below, but here are some tips for if you are going to leave them on. There are times when I know that leaving the skins on with add a sought after texture to certain combinations. There is also prep time to take into consideration. Washing but not peeling, and going straight to cutting and boiling can save you 5 or so minutes you may not have. Peeling only some of the skins, or some of the potatoes, is another option you may want to consider. If you are leaving some or all of the skin on, you'll want to make sure you scrub your potatoes gently with a wire brush while under cool or lukewarm water before cutting.
Rinse and peel your potatoes. Then rinse again before placing them back on your cutting board.
With your knife, cut each potato lengthwise.
Cut each half width wise (not lengthwise) in half inch pieces. This allows your potatoes to cook quicker.
Place cut pieces into your cooking pot as each potato is finished.
Fill your pot with cool water from your sink, making sure that you have one - three extra inches of water as: a) your potatoes will soak up quite a bit of it, and b) it is the boiling action that helps them soften and that causes the starch to cook out better, especially if you want your potatoes to come out creamy but not dense or sticky thick.
Add your 1 fourth teaspoon olive oil and 1 half teaspoon salt to your pot of water and cut potatoes.
Set pot on large burner on stove top and turn fire on to high.
Once the water starts to boil, you can turn the temperature to medium high, but depending on your stove top and pot, you probably shouldn't turn it lower than that because you want it to be at a fairly steady boil throughout the cooking process.
Set your timer for 20 minutes at this point.
You'll know your potatoes are ready when you have absolutely no trouble at all forking them. (see photograph below)
Turn off the stove and if the handles of your pot are hot, use oven pads or mitts to remove your pot from the stove top.
Place your colander into your sink.
Dump the boiled potatoes and water into the colander, careful not to back-splash any of the hot water onto yourself. Gently shake out the water, careful not to lose any potatoes.
Dump your drained potatoes into your large mixing bowl.
Add one stick of butter. It should start melting. To help it along, use a fork to stab it into smaller pieces.
Use your had mixer until the butter is mixed in. Start at a low speed at first with an up and down motion crushing and mashing down on the potatoes so that they get crushed into smaller pieces (about 30 seconds). Then start turning your hand mixer to the highest speed and whip in a circular motion (for about a minute).
Add two teaspoons salt (sprinkled around, not just dumped in one spot) and whip thoroughly into potatoes. (about 30 seconds)
Add half of your second stick of butter. Fork into pieces to help the mixer along. Then whip thoroughly. By this time you should know if you're going to need to add the milk or if you can do without it. If your mix is fairly moist and not flaky, you're fine. Otherwise, add in your milk. 1/4 of a cup only then whip (about 1 minute).
Add the rest of your salt (sprinkled around as before, not just dumped in one spot) and whip thoroughly into potatoes (about 30 seconds).
Add the rest of your butter the same way as you did the other two times, and whip (for 1 minute).
If your potatoes look similar to the photo below, your potatoes do not need any more liquid. If they don't look as creamy and rich as the photo below, then now is the time to add the other 1 fourth cup of your milk and whip for 1 minute.
Taste. If you need more salt, you can add little by little, whipping well before adding any more.
Remember, potatoes will hold their heat better than most foods. But once they cool down, they cool down fast.