An Ode to Mashed Potatoes
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’d like to give a little shout out to the mashed potato. While the internet will likely now be debating the best way to ensure a juicy turkey (easy: Alton Brown’s brined turkey recipe), or whether stuffing should be cooked inside the bird (I say no), I want to send a little love to the one that really brings it all together; the one item on the Thanksgiving plate that gives gravy its own little well, clearly recognizing that it is far too delicious to be merely drizzled over things. Thank you, mashed potatoes.
Mashed potatoes are the perfect comfort food. Eaten alone, they are rich, creamy and earthy. And paired with roasted meats or stews, they become the supporting player, letting the meat shine. At Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes share their space on the plate with an interloping carb, stuffing. And still, the meal seems somehow to make sense. All this, and they are cheap, too! (A tip: Potatoes are usually a much better deal in the 5-pound bag than loose.)
So as you start planning your Thanksgiving meal, don’t make the mashed potatoes an afterthought. Explore some new recipes, or go with a tried-and-true family recipe.
1. Use starchy potatoes, like russet potatoes — they are the fluffiest.
2. Keep peeled potatoes in cold water as you are prepping so they don’t turn brown.
3. Place potatoes in the pot in cold water, to ensure even cooking.
4. Don’t over-boil the potatoes, or they will get waterlogged.
5. Mash the potatoes by hand — use a potato ricer, or potato masher, or even a sieve. Avoid anything electric to mix the potatoes or you’ll have a gluey mess.
6. You can make mashed potatoes in advance if you have a recipe that includes a fair amount of fat, such as butter, whole milk, sour cream or cream cheese. Keep the mashed potatoes covered in a baking dish, and just heat them in the oven (ideally) or even microwave (stir frequently).
Since I know you are now as excited about mashed potatoes as I am, let me share some mashed potato recipes to get you started: