Mashed potatoes: a no-brainer?
Yes – it’s easy, but heavenly delicious when home-made…
(I think that’s why you’ll find again & again “how to do mashed potatoes!” on food blogs around the world…)
We start with potatoes & create a simple basic potato mash: afterwards – or better: during the enrichment phase – you may add additional ingredients & flavors. I’ll give you 2 examples so far… (more may follow soon).
I referred to mashed potatoes several times since I started my food blog (think of roast beef dinner) & I think it’s time to be serious about mashed potatoes now.
We need potatoes – no: we need floury potatoes! This is the main criterion for potatoes to qualify for mashed potatoes – so: never use any waxy potatoes!
We peel the potatoes, wash them, cut them into pieces & boil them in salty water. Floury potatoes get rather soon rather soft & crumble away – that’s fine! As soon as you notice drain the potatoes & put them back on the hot pot – at once.
Then it’s all about mashing: I use a masher to crush the potatoes & afterwards I use a special wire whisk with little balls at the wire endings (to get all potato bits hiding in edges…).
For the record:
Mashing potatoes is a handmade affair!
If you use an electric hand blender the potatoes become somewhat “slimy” (which is fine for a potato soup, but not for a potato mash!). Therefore never use electric help, but only your muscle power.
While the potatoes are boiling prepare some milk & whipping cream adding salt & pepper & nutmeg (freshly ground) & heat it (no boiling required!): this is the basic enrichment phase. The hot (!) milk mix will be added slowly to the potato mash; whisk until the mashed potatoes have the softness you like.
(Always use a hot milk mix: it’s better for combining than a cold (or even ice-cold) liquid.)
So we get a basic potato mash!
We may add some more ingredients & flavors: let’s start with fennelized mashed potatoes!
We need a fennel bulb. The fennel bulb is finely sliced (use a mandolin slicer!) & reserve the fennel greens.
While preparing the basic mashed potatoes fry the fennel mess in some oil (peanut oil or any other oil w/o any taste of its own) until soft & starting to get brown.
Just add the fennel to the mashed potatoes & stir until well combined. Add some fennel greens for decoration.
Another alternative is a savory potato mash w/ onions & bacon.
Just chop the spring onions & the bacon & fry until soft & brown.
You may add the onion-bacon mess on top or combine it w/ the mashed potatoes. (If you prepare mashed potatoes in advance (for a dinner next day or so) I recommend to combine because it’s easier when reheating.)
Well: sometimes it happens that the floury potatoes don’t mutate into a totally creamy affair w/o any itsy-bitsy potato bits… either you didn’t crush & whisk long enough… or the floury potatoes weren’t floury enough…:
- it’s obvious that it’s homemade & handmade(!)
- it doesn’t influence the taste(!)
- …& at least the photos show that it works well sometimes!
Milk? Whipping cream? Butter?
There’s a lot of stuff to make your mashed potatoes soft & softer… The basic approach is just using hot milk; you may add whipping cream for a more silken feeling on your tongue (& of course the flavor). My recommendation: don’t substitute milk 100% for whipping cream or even butter! The potato mash will become very rich & filling: that’s not appropriate for a roast companion!
You may prepare mashed potatoes in advance & reheat in a microwave. When reheated the potato mash tends to thickening so either you’ll prepare a very soft mash from the beginning or you’ll have to add some liquid at this point… (I always opt for the 1st alternative: it’s easier & faster!).
It doesn’t matter for the reheating if it’s a basic mash or an enhanced mash. Therefore mashed potatoes are a top solution for dinners w/ guests to accompany any roast: just prepare the mash a day before or so, put it in its final bowl (w/ lid & reassure that the bowl is microwave safe(!)) & put it in the microwave just before dinner is ready.
The businesswoman with too many office hours thinks
Basic mash: it’s always the same process & I can diversify by adding this & that…
Is it really easier just to grab a packet potato mash which needs only some water? Maybe, but the taste will be different.
I’ll definitely try the homemade mash because I can start anytime & reheat w/o loss of quality!