Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

It's a safe bet that a large bowl of mashed potatoes will grace most dinner tables on this upcoming Thanksgiving. But how they are prepared is likely to vary, if only a little. Today's Washington Post includes this article about making the perfect mashed potatoes:

Mashed potatoes or potato puree is a dish everyone can make. It demands so little: Boil some potatoes and crush them with whatever you have at hand: a potato ricer, a fork or the backside of a wooden spatula.

The transformation from plain boiled potatoes to a dish with its own merit needn't take more than a minute. If the potatoes are good, and if you add a little milk, a lump of butter or some cream, few people would not appreciate or even love the result.

... However the process of making good mashed potatoes does have its demands. ... Cooks who are overeager or inattentive risk ending up with a sticky mass of something more resembling wallpaper glue than gastronomy.

The article talks about the importance of letting the potatoes drain (once they've been boiled). The writer recommends using a hand-held electric mixer rather than a food processor. There are other suggestions and caveats so it's an article worth reading.

Some people swear by using Russet potatoes, while others insist that Yukon Golds are the best. I think the latter make the best mashed potatoes.

There's also the issue of whether to add garlic or an herb like sage. I like these kinds of twists, but my significant other is a purist when it comes to mashed potatoes.

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