Cook the Book: Mashed Potatoes, Finally Revealed

Cook the Book: Mashed Potatoes, Finally Revealed

"I have never seen smoother potatoes."


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.

  • Yield:4 to 6 servings


  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks (1 3/4 pounds peeled)
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, cut in half, green shoots removed
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. 1.

    Place the potatoes and garlic in a steamer basket above boiling water; cover, and steam for 25 minutes, until very tender.

  2. 2.

    Meanwhile, combine the cream, 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of the butter; and the salt in a medium saucepan and heat until the cream simmers and the butter melts.

  3. 3.

    When the potatoes are tender, put them through a ricer or the medium blade of a food mill. Add the cream mixture and mix together well. Then press through a flat tamis or a large strainer, using a rubber spatula or pestle to press the mixture into a stainless steel bowl the will rest in a saucepan without touching the bottom.

  4. 4.

    Make a double boiler by filling the saucepan with 1 inch of water and placing the bowl in it. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Stir the potatoes as they heat. Cut the remaining 3/4 cup butter into pieces and, using a whisk or rubber spatula, beat into the hot puree until combined. Continue to heat the potatoes over simmering water, stirring often, until hot and silky. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.