We use russet potatoes for this recipe because of their high starch content, which makes for fluffier mashed potatoes. We keep the potatoes in their skins and simmer rather than boil them to keep them from getting water-logged and mushy.
2 pounds medium russet potatoes, scrubbed (3 to 4 potatoes)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup half-and-half, warmed
Freshly ground pepper
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add enough cold water to just cover and salt generously. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, 45 to 55 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, peel (use an oven mitt or kitchen towel to steady the potatoes) and transfer to a large bowl. Add the butter, warm milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and mash with a potato masher.
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