Wednesday, November 25, 2009

GARLICKY, CHEESY MASHED POTATOES: What's the best potato for mashing?

This is comfort food! Lots of calories and lots of taste. Kid friendly too, as my seven year old nephew Alex will tell you, because he loves it. Good to have as a side dish for a special occasion. 
The trick to getting nice mashed potatoes is to make sure they don't come out gluey.  To that end, try not to overcook them so that they don't retain a lot of water.  Also, make sure you drain them really well.  And, don't use a food processor or mixer to mash them with.  Heavy duty beating releases the starch contained in the potatoes, and the starch that leaches out makes for a gluey, pasty texture. Mash your potatoes by hand.  Try using potatoes that are high in starch, such as baking or russet potatoes.  You'll find that they will break down easily and quickly, which not only is less labor intensive, but also prevents starch from being released.  The result will be mashed potatoes that are fluffy. Potatoes such as reds are low in starch, so they tend to hold on to their shape and their flesh does not break down easily.  They need  a longer time to mash, and this prolonged time will cause them to turn gluey.  That's why red potatoes are best for smashed potato recipes, and russets work best for mashed potatoes.  With a minimum of effort russets or baking potatoes will become fluffy and delicious! 


5 pounds russet (baking) potatoes
10 cloves of garlic peeled and cut in half
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste


  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Pace them in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Add the garlic and a little salt.
  • Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes feel tender when pierced. Drain really well and discard the garlic.
  • Meanwhile slowly heat the milk with bay leaf and the butter until all the butter melts. Make sure the milk does not boil.
  • Mash the potatoes with a potato masher.  
  • Remove the bay leaf from the hot milk mixture, add the milk to the potatoes and mix gently with a whisk until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Fold in the cheese and season with pepper. 
  • Serve the mashed potatoes to your friends and bow because they will be applauding after they have tasted them. If by any chance they do not applaud, bow anyway. It will make for an eccentric evening.

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