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How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes- Every Time

Mashed potatoes have long been a staple on the American dinner table. In recent years, chefs have been flavoring this basic recipe to create culinary masterpieces that are easily reproduced in the home. Here are some tips and a basic recipe to get you started on the road to perfect mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes with scallions and butter
Mashed potatoes with scallions and butter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Choosing The Right Potato

Actually there is no right potato for mashed potatoes, any potato will do. However, the potato you choose will affect the taste; if you are trying to make the potatoes mom made, you might want to use the same kind of potatoes that she used.

Starchy potatoes, such as russet and Yukon gold will yield light fluffy mashed potatoes.

Waxy potatoes such as reds and round whites yield a denser, but more flavorful mashed potato.

How To Mash The Potatoes

When it comes to mashing the potatoes, every cook does it differently. For a coarse mashed potato, use a potato masher by hand to mash until the potatoes are the desired texture. The more you mash, the finer the texture and less lumps.

If you like a very smooth texture with no lumps, use a potato ricer. A potato ricer looks similar to a giant garlic press. The potato is pushed through small holes, yielding a fine smooth texture.

If you like light fluffy potatoes, you can use an electric mixer to mash and combine the potatoes. When using an electric mixer, you must be careful not to over mix them. If you mix too long the texture breaks down and the potatoes will have the consistency of glue.

Basic Mashed Potatoes

6 medium sized potatoes
1/2 cup milk, approximately
4 Tablespoons butter
Salt and white pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes if you wish, then cut into large chunks. Boil the potatoes until soft and easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return to the pan and dry by shaking the pan over heat.

Mash the potatoes or put through a ricer. Add most of the milk, the butter, and salt and white pepper to taste. Stir to combine, adding the rest of the milk as needed until the potatoes are the desired consistency. Do not over mix.

Popular Variations

Some cooks use cream instead of milk for a creamier flavor.

Use olive oil instead of butter.

Substitute sour cream for the milk. Garnish with chives or bacon.

Add a few cloves of garlic to the cooking potatoes, and mash with the potatoes, or add roasted garlic to the cooked potatoes.

For low fat mashed potatoes, use low fat sour cream instead of the butter and milk.

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