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Cook the Book: Mashed Potatoes, Finally Revealed

"I have never seen smoother potatoes."

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20091102newclassicfamilydinners.jpgHomemade mashed potatoes can be great, but oftentimes lumpy, dry, and underseasoned—or even worse, mealy. Then there are restaurant mashed potatoes. Those ethereal white mounds of creamy potatoey deliciousness are perfectly salted, without a lump in sight.

So, what are the secrets to amazing restaurant quality mashed potatoes? Mark Peel, author of New Classic Family Dinners has graciously shared the secrets of these lumpless wonders in his new book.

They involve, as you might have suspected, a very healthy amount of butter and cream, which helps the texture and flavor, but the real creaminess comes from the technique.

Until I tried this recipe, I always peeled and boiled my potatoes—my first mistake. Peel steams his, which prevents the potatoes from becoming water-logged and in turn, slimy and sticky.

I used a rice cooker to steam the potatoes and garlic and it worked like a charm. The next step is to pass the potatoes and garlic through a food mill or ricer, which will keep them light, airy, and lump-free. Then the cream and butter gets added, and another pass through the stainer, which elevates the spuds from simple mashed potatoes to pommes purée.

I have never seen smoother potatoes. Truthfully, you could stop right there. They taste pretty great without even adding the remaining 3/4 cup of butter, but why not? That extra butter certainly didn't hurt the flavor and lent the faintest and most appealing hint of buttery yellow. While eating these, I couldn't help but think that this is one recipe that Paula Deen and Joël Robuchon could both agree on.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of New Classic Family Dinners to give away this week.

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