A few week's back we shared Mark Peel's recipe for Mashed Potatoes, Finally Revealed, a cream and butter-laden preparation that is the key to the smoothest restaurant caliber mashed potatoes. It turned out to be one of the the most popular Thanksgiving posts of all time here on Serious Eats.
This week we are back to the mash with a homier version from Good Eats: The Early Years by Alton Brown. These Mashers are considerably less rich and much more rustic than Peel's version. In place of a pound and a half of butter and two passes through a strainer, these potatoes gain their texture from the joined forces of two varieties of spuds. Waxy red potatoes are mashed together with starchy russets for a mash that is much more robust. These potatoes are meant to be chunky so there is no need dwell on a few lumps and run the risk of gluey mess. These chunky, lumpy mashed potatoes are a gravy enthusiast's dream come true; they'll hold their own with however much gravy you decide to ladle on.
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, rinsed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 pounds red "boiling" potatoes, rinsed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Place all spud hunks in a 4-quart saucepan and add just enough cold tap water to cover. (You can put the potatoes in the water and refrigerate them for up to 8 hours before cooking.) Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. (This will take about 15 minutes).
Meanwhile, combine the buttermilk, cream, and garlic in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a bare simmer over low heat, watching to make sure that the mixture doesn't boil over. Keep the mixture barely bubbling until the potatoes are done.
When the spud water boils, ditch the lid, drop the heat to a simmer, and cook until the spuds are easily crushed with tongs, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan and the heat. Toss and shake gently for 30 seconds or so to knock off surface moisture. (The drier the spuds the better.)
Move the pan to a trivet, hot pad, or towel on the countertop and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Pour on about a quarter of the buttermilk mixture and start mashing.