I’ve always been a sucker for mashed potatoes. As a kid, whenever it was roast dinner day, I’d ask for a large portion mashed potatoes and gravy and as little as possible of everything else.
In my uni years, I came up with a concoction of mashed potato with cheese, crispy bacon and onion gravy that was my staple food for at least a year.
So you can imagine my horror when Gracey turned out to be a mashed potato hater. She’ll eat mashed potato cakes that have been breaded and fried, or stuffed potato skins (excuse the HORRIFIC photography – I really had no idea how to use a camera at that point) – but give her regular mashed potato and she turns her nose up. I think it was because she had a bit of a choking fit on some when she was weaning, and it imprinted something on her brain. I’m trying to work it our of her.
Lewis on the other hand is my mashed potato kindred spirit. If I told him it was mash and nothing else for dinner he’d be overjoyed. He takes his role as chief mashed potato tester very seriously.
My top tips for perfect mashed potato:
- Use floury potatoes – such as Maris Piper, King Edwards, Rooster, Russets, Yukon golds or Desirée
- Chop the potatoes into approx same-size chunks
- Drain the cooked potatoes well, but only for a minute or so – you want them to be nice and hot
- Use a potato ricer (<–affiliate link) for lump-free mash
- Add the butter before the cream – so the heat of the potato can melt it more quickly without the cream cooling it down
- Use double (heavy) cream! Yes you can use milk, but a proper glug of cream is what you need for the best mash. I ALWAYS use cream (ok, i’ve used milk once or twice when I’ve run out of cream, but always added in more butter to help make up for it). You’re eating a pan full of carbs anyway, you might as well make those carbs taste the best they can be.
- Be prepared to use a more salt than you expect. Potatoes need plenty of salt (to taste) and a touch of black pepper. Personally I don’t cook mine with salt, I prefer to add it after. Add a little salt, taste, add a little more if needed. You can always add more if you like, but you can’t take it away if you add too much salt, so be sure to taste test.
- You can make mashed potato ahead if you like. I often do this to take a bit of pressure off when I’m making a Sunday roast. Make the mash, cool, cover and refrigerate, then reheat in the microwave (stirring a few times) until piping hot. You can add a touch more cream if it’s thickened too much during refrigeration.
- Overcook the potatoes. You should cook the potatoes until you can just slide a knife through them. 15 minutes is usually enough – up to 20 minutes if you’ve cut your chunks slightly bigger. If you overcook the potatoes they’ll break down and soak up too much water – leading to tasteless, watery mash.
- Use an electric whisk or food processor! Some people do this to ensure they get the lumps out (no need if you use a ricer), but one little whizz too far and it overworks the starch in the potatoes giving the mash a gluey texture.
- Use low fat products. Mash isn’t diet food. Mash is stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. Low fat mash is still high in calories, and it’s a poor substitute for real mashed potato with cream and butter. So if you’re making it, enjoy every mouthful.
- Use milk. The best mashed potato needs fat in there from the cream (as well as the butter). At a push whole (full-fat) milk is OK. I’d use it if I had to – because I’d run out of cream.
- Freeze mash if you can help it. As mashed potatoes defrost, they can go watery and a little grainy. You can remedy this by reheating in an uncovered pan (to let the excess moisture evaporate), whilst stirring occasionally, then adding in more cream. They’re not quite the same though, and will be a thinner consistency overall.
To make the mash, I peel my potatoes and chop them into even-sized chunks (about the size of half a kiwi fruit). Place in a pan and cover with cold water. I prefer not to season the water – leaving the seasoning until later. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes – until a knife will slide into them easily. Drain in a colander for minute, then load into a potato ricer 2 at a time:
Squeeze the potato ricer, letting the riced potato fall into a bowl, or the pan (give it a rinse first). When all the potatoes are riced, add the butter and stir, then add the cream and stir again. Stir in salt and pepper and taste – adding more if needed.
Transfer to a serving bowl and top with a knob of butter, some Maldon salt flakes and a pinch of black pepper before serving.
Recipes for serving with mashed potatoes:
Rich and Comforting Beef Bourguignon | Creamy Slow Cooked Pork Casserole | Slow Cooked Steak Diane Casserole | Beef and Guinness Stew with Crispy Onions | Crockpot Beef Short Ribs with Rich Gravy | Creamy Chicken and Mushroom One Pan Casserole
The Perfect Mashed Potatoes Recipe:
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- 2 lbs (900g) floury potatoes (see note 1), chopped into even-sized chunks (see note 2)
- 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup (90ml) double (heavy) cream
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp (15g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp Maldon salt flakes
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes by pushing a knife into one of the potatoes - the potato should be tender and the knife should slide through. Cook for a few minutes more if needed to get to the this stage, but don't let them overcook (no more than 20 minutes) or the mashed potatoes will be watery.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them sit for 1 minute, until the moisture evaporates.
- Place the potatoes - about 2 at a time - in a potato ricer, letting the riced potatoes fall into a clean bowl. Continue until all the potatoes are riced.
- Add the butter and give it a little stir so the heat of the potato melts the butter.
- Add the cream, half the salt and pepper and stir together using a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
- Taste the mashed potatoes and stir in more salt and pepper if needed.
- Top the mashed potatoes with a knob of butter and a sprinkling of Maldon salt flakes and pinch of black pepper before serving.
Note 1:Potato varieties include: Maris Piper, King Edwards, Rooster, Russets, Yukon golds or Desirée.
Note 2:You want medium sized chunks - about the size of half a kiwi fruit (you can see on the video and step-by-step photos). The key is to ensure they're cut into similar sizes, so they'll cook evenly. Nutritional Information is per serving.
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