Creamy mashed potatoes

On Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner with a wonderful group of Thanksgiving orphans (mostly other foreigners) in Manhattan. Everyone brought a few dishes, which meant we ended up with significantly more food than we could possibly eat (though we did try). As you can’t have Thanksgiving without mash, we volunteered to bring some, as well as some pumpkin whoopie pies and a cauliflower and caramelised onion tart (recipes to follow).

Mashed potatoes are extremely easy, and there is no great secret about how to make them good – just use the right kind of potatoes and add lots of cream. We tend to make them at home a lot when we want an easy, satisfying addition to lunch or dinner. If you have some pesto lying around, stirring a couple of tablespoons of pesto through it makes easy pesto mash – top with a fried egg and you have a great, simple breakfast or lunch. But, as I have learned since living with someone who had no real cooking experience before we moved in together, there is a first time to learn even the simplest of recipes – so if you have never mashed a potato, this recipe is for you.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

(Makes enough for 6-10 people)

2kg (roughly 4.5 lb) of good mashing potatoes (eg. Russet or Yukon Gold)

400-500ml (14-17 fl oz/ approx 2 cups) double cream (heavy whipping cream) – You can use milk if you like, or less cream, but the more cream the better if you ask me.

55g (2 oz/3 tbs) salted butter

Sea salt

Place a large pot of water on the stove top to boil, and add a few pinches of salt. While the water is heating up, peel the potatoes, and make sure to remove any dark patches. When the water starts to boil, add the potatoes. Allow to boil until they are soft (you can test this by stabbing them with a knife). If you have large potatoes this will take around 30 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, drain completely and return to the pot you boiled them in. Cut the butter into small cubes and add that with the cream, and then mash with a potato masher until really smooth. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt and mash that in. (Mashed potato needs quite a bit of salt, so you should taste it and adjust the salt to your taste).

If you want it extremely creamy, you can push the mashed potato through a sieve. For garlic mash, mash in two cloves of garlic, crushed. Once mashed, you can also stir in cheese (make sure to do this while it is still warm) or chives for a bit of variation.

Here is a great tip: While you can reheat on the stovetop (in which case you will need to add a little more cream or milk to stop it from getting dry), the most delicious way to reheat mashed potatoes is to fry it. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of salted butter in a frying pan, and add the cold mashed potato, flattening it down. While you are cooking, add a little more salt (it loses some of its saltiness if you store it for a few days in the fridge), and allow it to brown on the bottom, before flipping it over. Cook until the potato is warm and soft, and you have lots of delicious golden crispy bits.

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