This is probably going to annoy you. I don’t really have a recipe for mashed potatoes. It’s more like I have a few basic rules for mashed potatoes, and if I keep these rules in mind while I’m preparing them, the dish comes out perfect every time. I promise you this process will be liberating, not maddening.
1) Always use baking potatoes. Red potatoes, round white potatoes, and even versatile Yukons are too waxy. Baking potatoes (also known as russets and Idahos) will deliver fluffy mashed potatoes every time.
2) Count on about 1 1/2 potatoes per grown-up and 1 per kid. As far as I’m concerned, you can never have too many mashed potatoes or too many mashed potato leftovers.
3) Don’t undercook. The potatoes are cooked and ready to mash when a knife can slip through the biggest one with no resistance. It usually takes about 15 minutes.
4) The more fat (cream, milk, butter) you add, the more delicious they will be. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be good if you use lowfat milk and chicken broth instead.
5) Warm the liquid you use to whip the potatoes. No matter what combination of liquid you use (cream, milk, buttermilk, broth) when it’s time to whip, just make sure it’s warm.
So I do my math, peel the potatoes, cut them in large chunks, add them to a big pot of room temperature water, then bring that pot of water to a boil. Start checking with your knife for doneness at about 15 minutes. While the potatoes cook, I usually pour some combination of cream, buttermilk, broth, or milk into a large measuring cup (the proportions are flexible depending on how indulgent I feel; but it usually totals about 1 cup of liquid if I’m making enough potatoes for 8. Then I microwave the concoction for about a minute. I beat the potatoes with an electric mixer (right in the pot), drizzling in the warm liquid as I whip until they have reached the desired fluffy, creamy consistency. You do not want to overmix.
Stir in big pats of butter and 1 to 2 heaping spoonfuls (per 8 potatoes) of creamy horseradish (sold in the mustard section; I like the brand Ingelhoffer) to give it a little bite. You could just as easily leave this part out and add sour cream and fresh chopped herbs. Or you could add caramelized onions, sauteed garlic, crispy fried shallots. I’m telling you, once you know the rules, you will want to make it your own.
Other Potato Recipes you might like to check out: