Test Kitchen tips: Mashed Potatoes 101 (plus 7 recipes)
There is an art to comfort food, and mashed potatoes are no exception. And while personal preference may have a lot to do with what you might consider "perfection" -- do you like your mashed potatoes smooth or lumpy? Creamy or fluffy? -- there are nevertheless some tips you can follow to elevate your spuds above the rest of the pack:
- What potatoes do I use? For light mashed potatoes, use bakers, like russets. With their high starch content and low sugar, they'll whip up nice and fluffy, perfect for soaking in all the cream, butter and sour cream you can throw at 'em. If you prefer mashed potatoes that are denser, like those trendy "smashed potatoes," use boilers.
- Whether to keep the skin on is one of those personal preference things. I usually peel if the potatoes have thicker skins (the skins can be a bit chewy); if I'm using thin-skinned potatoes, and am going for a more rustic look, I'll leave them on.
- Store peeled potatoes in a bowl of cool water (make sure they're immersed) before cooking to keep them from browning.
- Don't cut the potatoes before boiling them; cook them whole. Cutting the potatoes makes them more likely to soak up water as they cook, making for soggy mashed potatoes.
- For a fluffier texture, run the potatoes through a ricer (pictured at right). It's easy to overwork the potatoes using an electric mixer, which can make them gummy.
- Mash the potatoes while they're still hot, before they've had a chance to cool. Mashing while hot will give the potatoes a lighter, fluffier texture.
- Add butter for richness and cream or milk to give the potatoes the desired consistency. For a little tang, you might try adding sour cream or yogurt to your potatoes.
You'll find some recipes for mashed potatoes (and a couple of dishes that use your mashed spuds) after the jump. And if you have any tips of your own to share, please share them in the comments below!
If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Noelle Carter
Photo credits: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times (top); Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times (ricer)