Don’t skimp on the butter…
and that’s it!
I’ve let you in on my little secret! Now they’re perfect!
Believe it or not, there are a couple of “secrets” to the perfect mashed potatoes. Now, I call them perfect because, to me, perfect means delicious in their simplest, purest, most traditional form. No messing with the original recipe’s ingredients, just letting them shine.
Secret #2 is to take your butter and your milk out of the refrigerator, well in advance. They need to be room temperature when you add them to your hot, mashed potatoes.
Otherwise, you’ll be adding cold ingredients into your piping hot potatoes, cooling them right down! The horror!
Therefore, at least an hour before you begin peeling, take out what you need; about 1/2 cup of butter for every 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes and about 1/4 cup whole milk. ( You could use lower fat milk here, but don’t. Please don’t. Please?)
Next come the star of the show! Those glorious spuds! If you can grab them fresh out of your garden or at the farmer’s market, there will be no comparison to the mashed potatoes you make from these. Sooooo yummy! But if, like most of us throughout the year, you are purchasing the ones from the supermarket, make certain that they don’t look dry and puckered, or feel soft.
I always make my mashed potatoes from white potatoes. It’s what my Mémé in France did, my aunts over there do and my Mom does here. Why fix what ain’t broke?!
If you have trouble finding these, russets are the closest substitute. But, keep looking…Secret #3: the white ones make it perfect.
After peeling the potatoes, Secret #4 is to chop them into small pieces of the same size (1/4-1/2 inch). The uniformity causes them to all cook at the same rate, keeping the flavor consistent and of course, perfect.
Place those precisely chopped potatoes in a pot and cover them with enough cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring them to a boil and immediately turn the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 11 minutes. Not 12… 11 minutes!
Drain the potatoes and put them back in the same pot on the warm burner on the stove.
Now, time for your arm to get a work-out! Start mashing!
Add in the softened butter and keep mashing. Add just a little bit of milk at a time and mash and finger test (eat a bit!) before adding more. Probably won’t need all of it, since the last thing you want to end up with is soupy mashed potatoes!
I love the consistency of mashed potatoes you get from putting some muscle behind the hand tool. I work it until there are no more lumps. But everyone has differing opinions as to what mashed potatoes should look like…some like them lumpy and some like them so smooth and runny that they take a hand-mixer to them. This part is entirely up to you!
The last secret, Secret #5 lies in the seasoning of this dish. Potatoes can handle a lot of salt and a lot of pepper. Don’t be scared. Grab a generous amount of salt and a generous amount of pepper and mix it in until thoroughly combined. Now try it. Can you taste the salt? If you’re not sure, you don’t have enough. Add more. And more. And incorporate it and taste it again. There is nothing more disappointing than under seasoned mashed potatoes on your plate. When you can feel the velvet of the butter on your tongue and taste the salt and pepper, you’ve mastered the perfect mashed potatoes.
Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!