Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mashed Potatoes

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Do you really need a recipe for mashed potatoes?  The Barefoot Contessa has a deliciously rich mashed potato recipe in her Family Style cookbook that got wonderful reviews.  But as I said earlier...is a recipe truly necessary?
Once you have your basic mashed potatoes mashed you can add just about anything (roasted garlic, sautéed onions, mushrooms, grated cheese, chives, sour cream, bacon…) to the mix to make it your own.

This is what I do to make mashed potatoes...

I usually grab up 6 – 8 russet potatoes (I like russets because they cook up dry and flaky, which I think results in a fluffier potato), peel and quarter them and drop them in to a pot of boiling salted water (salt the water as you would for pasta) and cook for about 15 - 20 minutes or until they are very tender. 

I drain the water from the pot, using the lid to hold back the potatoes from falling in to the sink (a little water left in the pot is ok) and mash the potatoes right in the pot with a basic hand held manual potato masher, adding a stick of cold salted butter (because that’s what I usually have in my fridge), a couple good pinches of kosher salt and a pinch of white pepper to mash along with the potatoes.  The cold butter melts quickly in the pot of hot potatoes.

After I get the potatoes mashed, leaving a few small lumps behind to remind me that these are the real thing.  I start adding milk (usually 2%, straight from the fridge) about a ½ cup at a time until I get the consistency that I want.  Taste again and add a little more salt and pepper if needed.

I transfer the potatoes to a microwaveable dish and cover it with plastic wrap, slicing a small slit in the plastic so the steam from the potatoes can vent.  When I am ready to serve, I place them in the microwave for a couple of minutes or until they are heated through and fluff them with a fork before serving.

When I make a giant pot of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving I hold them in my crock pot on low to keep them hot.

BAREFOOT CONTESSA MASHED POTATOES

3              pounds                 white boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
2              tsp.                        kosher salt, plus more to salt the potato water
¼             pound                   unsalted butter, (1 stick)
½ to 1    cup                         half and half
½             cup                         sour cream
½             tsp.                        fresh ground black pepper

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 15 to 20 minutes, until very tender.  Meanwhile, heat the butter and half and half in a small sauce pan.

Drain the potatoes.  While still hot, place the potatoes in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the hot half and half mixture, the sour cream, salt and pepper.  Mix until the potatoes are mashed but not completely smooth.

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