You have to have the perfect mashed potatoes to go with that delicious turkey that is roasting in the oven. Here are some handy hints and a recipe or two to help you along the way.
For the best mashed potatoes, always use a Russet potato. A good ‘rule of thumb’ for selecting the number of potatoes to cook to have enough for all your guests is – two medium-large potatoes for three servings. A medium-large potato is one that when you grab unto it, the potato is large enough that you can’t quite close your hand around it and a portion of if sticks out of both sides of your closed fist. However, you always want to ‘make just a little more than needed.’
Scrub off the dirt on the outside of the potato under cold running water; then, totally peel them. Cut up the potatoes into chunks/large cubes; place into boiling salted water. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks. The potatoes are fully cooked when a fork will insert easily with no resistance.
A quick hint – prepare your mashed potatoes while the cooked potatoes are still HOT; do not let them stand and cool off!
For smooth, evenly mashed potatoes, use a small hand-held mixer; or you can use a potato masher, if you don’t have one. After the potatoes have fully cooked, drain the water from the pot leaving a ‘slight’ amount of water in the pot. With the beater heads in the hand-held mixer (or, using the potato masher), press down on all the potatoes to break them up. Add a slight amount of milk (approximately ⅓ to ½ cup), turn mixer to a low setting to begin the ‘mashing.’ Once the potatoes start to become ‘mashed’, add approximately ¼ stick of butter for every six potatoes. Continue to mix, adding small amounts of milk until the desired consistency is reached.
There are several items that can be added to give different savor and zest to your mashed potatoes:
For a creamy rich flavor, after mixing in the butter and before adding more milk, add approximately 4 to 6 oz. of cream cheese for every six potatoes. After which, add more milk if necessary to achieve the smooth consistency.
Want cheesy mashed potatoes? Following the ‘add butter step’, add 8 to 12 oz of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, beat until cheese is melted and completely blended. Again, add as much milk as needed to obtain the desired consistency. (An added delight to these mashed potatoes is crumbled extra crisp bacon sprinkled across the top of the potatoes just before serving.)
How about a mashed potato that isn’t quite sweet, but not sour either? Again, following the ‘add butter step’, add ⅓ cup sour cream, mix well. Take a taste of the mixture; if desired, a small dollop more of sour cream can be added. This time, you may not need to add as much milk, if any, to reach that smooth, velvety texture. (You may want to sprinkle some chives on the top of the potatoes before placing on your dining table.)
For garlic mashed potatoes, although you can use Russet potatoes, red potatoes work best. With the red potatoes, prepare as mentioned above for regular mashed potatoes except DO NOT PEEL the potatoes. This type of mashed potato will not come out smooth, because the peels will be an ingredient. After the mashed potatoes are completed, mix in ¼ tsp garlic oil or minced garlic and mix well. (Sprinkle grated parmesan or Romano cheese across the potatoes.)
There are a variety of ways to fix mashed potatoes – and regardless of which way you fix them, they can only serve to pay tribute to a wonderfully roasted Thanksgiving Turkey.